Friday, October 23, 2009

Choppers, cop on Chhath vigil

Devotees today took the holy dip in rivers and prayed to the sun marking the beginning of Chhath today.

Devotees thronged rivers and ponds early in the morning to take the holy dip after offering their prayers to the sun. Afterwards, they headed home to clean up the house, wash utensils and cook vegetarian meals while singing nahai khai (bath and eat) songs. During this four-day festival devotees would be fasting for 36 hours at a stretch and break their fast only after sun down.

In Patna, men and women assembled on the banks of the Ganga. Most ghats across the state were spruced up and decorated with lights, while roads leading to the banks were also repaired.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar directed authorities to make fool-proof arrangements in every area and keep a close watch on crowds that assembled at ghats where the rivers had stronger current and deeper beds. Helicopters were made to fly over ghats to monitor the crowds.

“There are 52 ghats in all and some of them have been declared as hazardous,” a source said.

Ponds were also dug by the administration to regulate the rush of devotees in areas where bathing was prohibited.

Altogether 37 inmates, including 28 women, lodged in judicial custody at the high-security Beur jail, on the outskirts of Patna, were also slated to perform Chhath Puja, said jail superintendent .P. Gupta.

“We have arranged the puja paraphernalia,” Gupta said. The inmates would be using a small pond on the jail premises for the puja, he said adding that required materials would be made available to them. Chhath is performed every year at the Beur jail by the inmates.