After Diwali firecrackers, Chhath procession banned in Calcutta

Ban on Chhath Puja
Why target only Hindu festivals?

Days after the Delhi government imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of firecrackers, the Calcutta high court has also placed restrictions on Chhath Puja processions across West Bengal, stating that only two members per family will be allowed to enter a water body to offer the puja.

In addition to this, devotees are not allowed to enter the largest two lakes with the city, Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar. The order came on the heels of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directive that had banned Chhath Puja at Rabindra Sarobar.

“As far as the Subhas Sarobar and Rabindra Sarobar are concerned, in view of the subsisting order of the NGT, these water bodies will be totally out of bounds for Chhath Puja celebrations,” the Calcutta high court said.

Only two members of the family can participate in the Chhath Puja rituals while other family members will have to observe the Chhath Puja from home or in and around their home.

The court also ordered to wear masks at all stages and maintain social distancing to ensure the health and safety of the public. Devotees who will be participating in the upcoming celebrations are asked to travel in open vehicles. The state government has been directed by the court to enforce Section 144 of the CrPC to restrict the number of people in any area amidst the festivities.

“The court has banned Chhath Puja processions. Only two persons from a family can enter any water body to perform the puja. Devotees coming in vehicles will have to maintain social distance and not all will be allowed to get down,” a high court advocate as quoted by Hindustan Times said.

Earlier in November, the high court had implemented a complete ban on the use of firecrackers during all pujas, including the Kali Puja and Chhath Puja.

Also the police have been directed to ensure that no crackers are sold or used in Kolkata as crackers have already been banned and no one will be allowed to use firecrackers on the festival of Diwali until 30 November.

Despite the NGT’s ban, hundreds of devotees broke open the gates of Rabindra Sarobar in November 2019 to perform the Chhath rituals. They even burst crackers and played drums at the Sarobar although the government had earmarked alternative water bodies in the city for conduct of the rituals. The incident made headlines and triggered a huge controversy.

“As far as the Subhas Sarobar and Rabindra Sarobar are concerned, in view of the subsisting order of the NGT, these water bodies will be totally out of bounds for Chhath Puja celebrations,” the Calcutta high court said in its order on Tuesday.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.
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