Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday urged Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to allow the celebration of Chhath festival in the national Capital.
On September 30, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority had enforced a ban on celebrating the festival at public places and river banks in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chhath is mostly celebrated by those hailing from the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. As part of the festival’s rituals, devotees stand in water bodies to worship the sun. The ritual could potentially lead to spreading of the coronavirus infection as devotees often crowd river banks.
The festival will be held between November 8 and November 10 this year.
In a letter to Baijal on Thursday, Kejriwal pointed out that coronavirus situation in the city was under control for the past three months.
“Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and other neighbouring states have given permission to celebrate Chhath puja while making necessary arrangements for the citizens’ health and security,” the chief minister wrote in the letter. “I request you convene a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority and consider allowing Chhath Puja in Delhi too.”
Baijal is the chairperson of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority and Kejriwal is its vice-chairperson.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has also held protests against restrictions on Chhath celebration.
On Wednesday, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had written to the chief minister accusing him of hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community, reported PTI. Tiwari had also held a “Chhath Rath Yatra” on October 9.
On the same day, Kejriwal had said the celebration was prohibited due to a possible risk of transmission of the coronavirus infection, reported the Hindustan Times.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had also written to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday, urging the Centre to draft protocols and issue necessary orders related to celebration of the festival.
On Thursday, Adesh Gupta, the chief of BJP’s Delhi unit, said that Kejriwal’s letter to Baijal was a result of the pressure created by his party.
In a tweet, Tiwari said that “stubbornness had yielded to faith”.
“Anyway, better late than never, let us celebrate Chhath together,” he tweeted. “All of us will celebrate Chhath at the ghats in a disciplined manner following the Covid-19 norms.”