No Chhath Puja allowed at beaches, riverbanks and ponds in Mumbai.
On Tuesday, the BMC put restrictions in action pertaining to mass celebrations of Chhath Puja alongside water bodies in Mumbai and asked the devotees to practice social distancing, amid fears of an oncoming second wave of the coronavirus. The festival, which is in honour of the Sun god, will be celebrated later this week and every year, it pulls in thousands of crowds to the rivers, lakes and ponds in the city for its observance during sunrise or sunset. "No Chhath Puja allowed at beaches, riverbanks, ponds in Mumbai", the BMC stated.
Artificial Ponds can be set up by devotees
In an official statement, the civic body mentioned that it has decided to moderate Chhath Puja celebrations as it will be difficult to enforce social distancing if large numbers of devotees gather at beaches and river fronts for rituals and prayers. Further, no permission will be granted for mass scale celebration at natural water bodies and the BMC has also requested the citizens to follow COVID-19 protocols like wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and hand sanitisation while at it.
Devotees who are willing to perform Chhath Puja, will have to set up artificial ponds at their own cost and should ensure scrapping of the ponds too. The BMC will also be issuing necessary permissions to concerned organizations at ward level, for conducting Chhath Puja-related programmes on the upcoming two days marked for the festival.
The authorities have asked the police department to keep a watch on people, so that crowd-control can be in motion. According to the release, the civic body has directed all 24 ward offices to deploy medical teams at puja locations and provide COVID-19 testing facilities (through antigen or RT-PCR kits) there.