The Delhi BJP leadership strongly objected to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s (DDMA) decision not to allow Chhath Puja on the banks of the Yamuna and asserted that they will reach sites in the vicinity of the river to celebrate the festival, notwithstanding the ban.
BJP MP from Northeast Delhi Manoj Tiwari said the move is like “playing with the religious beliefs of Poorvanchalis”, while West Delhi MP Parvesh Sahib Singh said he will celebrate Chhath at Yamuna ghat only.
Poorvanchali is a term used for natives of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in its order released on Friday said Chhath Puja celebrations will be allowed at designated sites in the city except on the banks of the Yamuna River.
Mr Tiwari in a statement said he was “stunned” to know that devotees are not allowed to worship on the banks of the Yamuna during Chhath celebrations.
“I am stunned to know that the Delhi government has again banned Chhath celebrations on the banks of Yamuna. This is an effort to play with the religious beliefs of Poorvanchalis. Anti-Hindu policy of Arvind Kejriwal is getting exposed. We Poorvanchalis do not accept this,” Mr Tiwari said in a statement in Hindi.
There are over 1,000 Chhath ghats across the city of which 10-15 major ghats are located alongside the Yamuna. A majority of Chhath devotees of the city go to Chhath ghats along the Yamuna.
Mr Tiwari, a former Delhi BJP president, said the city government had earlier denied permission to celebrate Chhath, but allowed it later.
“Now they are saying you cannot celebrate Chhath on the banks of Yamuna. This is complete injustice (to Poorvanchalis). Why are you (Kejriwal) doing this only with Chhath?” Mr Tiwari asked.
West Delhi MP Singh also expressed his anger over the decision and said he will celebrate Chhath at Yamuna ghat only.
“Chhath is the biggest festival for brothers and sisters of Poorvanchal and putting restrictions on it is like playing with their beliefs. Kejriwalji, I will myself go to Yamuna to ensure Chhath Puja is celebrated there. Stop me if you can,” Mr Singh said in a tweet in Hindi.
Chhath, celebrated after Diwali by people belonging to Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, involves the offering of ‘Arghya‘ by fasting women to the Sun god in knee-deep water.
Earlier, in an order issued on September 30, the DDMA had prohibited Chhath celebrations at public places, including at riverbanks, water bodies and temples, in view of the threat posed by COVID-19.
Following this, the BJP staged protest across the and also at the residence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and demanded that public celebration of Chhath be allowed in Delhi.
On October 14, Mr Kejriwal wrote a letter to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to allow Chhath Puja in Delhi.