Guj:North Indian bodies ask people to celebrate Chhath at home

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Ahmedabad, Nov 17 (PTI) Organisations of north Indians residing in Ahmedabad and Surat in Gujarat on Tuesday appealed to people to not offer Chhath Puja on the banks of rivers or water bodies in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These organisations have instead asked people to offer Chhath Puja prayers at their residences.

The festival dedicated to the Sun god will be celebrated on November 20 and 21.

'In view of the coronavirus pandemic, north Indians in Ahmedabd have been appealed against gathering on the banks of the Sabarmati river and elsewhere to offer Chhath prayers.

They have been asked to hold prayers at their homes,' Lalit Jha, trustee of Ahmedabad-based Chhath Mahaparv Ayojan Samiti, told PTI.

Jha said public congregations held on the occasion of Chhath puja are prone to the COVID-19 infection as around one lakh people visit the Sabarmati river to mark the occasion every year.

Chhath puja organisers in Surat, where public prayers are typically organised at several places along the Tapi river, have also made the similar appeal.

Meanwhile, Jha said authorities have denied permission for public organisation of Chhath prayers in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

'Chhath puja is the biggest festival for people from Bihar and north Indians. The puja requires devotees to stand in water while offering prayers to the Sun god. Devotees will be at the risk of catching the coronavirus infection if even one person standing in water is infected,' said Mahendra Jha, another trustee of the Chhath Mahaparv Ayojan Samiti.

In Surat, organisers have put up banners at various spots along the Tapi river informing devotees that Chhath festival will not be organised this year.

Around 10 lakh north Indians reside in Ahmedabad, while their population in Surat is around 8 lakh.

In Ahmedabad, thousands of people throng every year on the banks of the Sabarmati river near Indira bridge to celebrate the festival at a ghat constructed by the state government.

Every year, state chief minister attends Chhath event on the banks of the river.

In Surat, the festival is typically organised in several places along the Tapi river.

A member of Bihar Vikas Mandal said the prayers will not be organised this year.

'In light of coronavirus and as per the government's guidelines, we have decided against organising the puja this time,' he said. PTI KA PD NSK NSK