Jharkhand govt retracts order, allows Chhath rituals at rivers

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BJP members protest in Ranchi on Tuesday. (Photo/ANI)
BJP members protest in Ranchi on Tuesday. (Photo/ANI)

Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], November 17 (ANI): A day after the Jharkhand government issued an order not permitting Chhath Puja at water bodies, it retracted its order on Tuesday, allowing the celebrations at river banks and ponds while following all COVID-19 protocols.

Wishing people ahead of Chhath, Chief Minister Hemant Soren said the festival can be celebrated in rivers and ponds while following all COVID-19 protocols like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. "My priority is the safety of the state. I advise everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines."

He appealed the people to celebrate the festival at home. "I have seen people celebrating Chhath with the same devotion and vigour indoors as outdoors. Also, people would be praying for their near and dear one's well-being. This can only be done by following the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Centre itself," he said, quoting the Centre's slogan, "Jab tak dawai nahi, tab tak dhilai nagi (don't let your guard down till a medicine/vaccine is discovered".

He added the Jharkhand government was merely following the Centre's guidelines. "The Government of India under the leadership of Prime minister Narendra Modi has asked time and again to follow social distancing. Keeping that in mind, my only priority is to save lives," he said, also giving examples of the Jharkhand Police force, deployed in Bihar during the recent elections, contracting the COVID.

"Personnel from Jharkhand Police were also deployed in Bihar during the elections. Nearly 50 per cent of the police personnel and CRPF jawans got COVID-19 positive," he said.

He also accused the BJP of doing politics in the name of faith.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday held a protest in Ranchi against the Jharkhand government's Monday's order, not permitting Chhath Puja at water bodies due to the ongoing COVID-19.

"People are angry with the state government's guidelines. A local Chhath Puja Samiti is holding a protest and the BJP is supporting them," a protester told ANI.

The protesters raised slogans against Jharkhand government and claimed that they will celebrate Chhath, no matter what.

Not just Jharkhand, the BJP has been protesting in other states as well, which have banned Chhath celebrations at rivers and public places.

The order issued by the by Jharkhand government on Monday read: "The ritual of holy bathing in rivers/ponds/lakes/dams/reservoirs/any other water body and standing in water is a matter of serious concern as it will amount to sharing of water thus enhancing the chances of spread of infection besides causing the contamination of the water."

Chhath, dedicated to the Sun God, is the most popular festival in Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh or Purvanchal. (ANI)