Rising water level in Ganga ahead of Chhat Puja alerts authorities

     Ahead of the festival of Chhat Puja, which is celebrated in Bihar and some parts of Uttar Pradesh, the rising water level in River Ganga has forced civic authorities in Patna to take preventive measures. The festival is significant for married women, who observe a two-day fast and offer prayers standing waist-deep in water for at least two hours and offer fruits and flowers to Surya, the Sun God. And the rising water level has prompted the civic authorities to undertake construction of ponds at several places along the banks of the river. The ponds will enable them to perform the rituals of Chhat Puja in those ponds instead of the River Ganga. “We are digging ponds in every locality as the water level had risen in River Ganga and it was deemed unsafe for the people to perform the rituals there. But now, the water is receding slowly and keeping in mind the religious sentiments of the people, we are also cleaning the Ganga ,” said Sudhakar Singh, Executive Engineer of Patna Municipal Corporation. “If water level decreases further then people might be able to perform the rituals there (in the river),” he added. However, the proposal to prevent any untoward incident has not gone down well with the devotees, who see it as a needless expenditure by the state Government. “The importance of the festival lies in performing the rituals in Ganga . Instead of digging ponds in several places, it would have been better had the Government utilized that money to undertake the cleaning of the river, so that we can perform the rituals there,” said Arun Kumar Singh, a local. People visit bathing ghats on riverbanks during the festival to pay obeisance to the Sun God at dawn as well as dusk, preferably just prior to the sunrise and sunset. The festival is celebrated on the sixth and seventh days after Diwali, the festival of lights.

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