Chhath Puja: Yamuna’s toxic foam fails to dampen devotees’ faith

- November 20, 2023
| By : Tej Prakash Bhardwaj  |

On the final days of Chhath Puja, a tapestry of faith unfolded amid celebrations, despite the Yamuna's polluted water

Devotees wake up few hours before sunrise to make all the preparations for the morning rituals

Devotees poured in at the Yamuna Ghat in Delhi on Monday for arghya offerings to the Sun god, marking the crescendo of the four-day Chhath Puja festivities that commenced on November 17. 

The vibrant celebrations were not confined to the Yamuna banks alone, as devotees thronged artificial ponds orchestrated by the governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. 

Devotees celebrating Chhath Puja in Delhi

The Delhi government developed over 1,000 ghats across the city, facilitating the seamless observance of Chhath Puja rituals.

“Yes, we know the water is not clean. We also don’t like it. But I have to take a dip. It is a must,” expressed Usha, a resident of Noida Sector 22, standing knee-deep in water as toxic foams floated on the surface of Yamuna near Kalindi Kunj. 

The celebrations continued with devotees bursting crackers and dancing to the lively tunes of Bhojpuri songs at Kalindi Kunj, showcasing the resilience and joy embedded in the essence of Chhath Puja.

The toxic foam, attributed to elevated phosphate levels, did little to dampen the spirits of the devotees. Undeterred, they immersed themselves in the rich traditions of the festival, marked by rigorous fasting, holy dips, and offerings to the rising and setting sun.

While Chhath Puja holds special significance for the Purvanchali community, comprising Bhojpuri-speaking individuals from eastern UP, Bihar, and parts of Jharkhand, its celebration resonates across the nation. 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, acknowledging the environmental concerns, visited an artificial pond in New Delhi on November 19. He extended his greetings to the public via social media, wishing them health, happiness, and prosperity on the occasion of Chhath Puja.

The creation of artificial ponds by the Delhi government stemmed from a 2021 High Court ban on celebrations along the Yamuna banks due to river pollution. Despite this, thousands of devotees immersed themselves in the polluted waters of the Yamuna.