Chhath sees repeat of Kali Puja, Diwali in city pockets
Times of India | 20 November 2023
Kolkata: Defying restrictions on usage of firecrackers during Chhath celebrations, revellers in Kolkata unleashed a barrage of non-green fireworks, accompanied by blaring DJ music, across the city. Despite an allotted window of two hours (6am to 8am) for fireworks revelry on Monday, non-green firecrackers disrupted the peace on Sunday late afternoon till late in the evening, blatantly disregarding an apex court order.
According West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), a two-hour window from 6am to 8am on Monday was designated for green fireworks for Chhath, a festival that begins with a prayer to the setting Sun and concludes with a prayer to the rising Sun next morning. At the WBPCB command control centre (CCC), no complaint was received by WBPCB. However, cops said firecrcrakers were burst in some pockets. In Howrah city too there were instances of fireworks being used in many places.
Residents from areas such as Golf Garden, Tangra, Beliaghata, Kasba, Paddapukur, Ballygunge, Mukundapur, Survey Park, and Burrabazar lodged complaints about the rampant use of firecrackers, expressing concern over the deviation from the traditionally serene celebrations of Chhath.
Green crusader Subhas Datta reflected on the disconnection between Chhath and firecrackers, recalling the simplicity and silence of childhood celebrations dedicated to the Sun God. He emphasized the need for community leaders to play a role in addressing such excesses, acknowledging the delicate balance between religious sentiments and environmental responsibility.
Rajesh Sinha, a prominent leader of Bihari Samaj, distanced the Chhath celebrations at the ghats of the Ganga from the reported firecracker bursts in the city. He condemned the incidents, stating that those who were involved in such activities failed to grasp the significance of the festivity.
While police reported no major violations at the major ghats or lakes, local water bodies with minimal police presence witnessed the highest levels of cracker activity. Stray complaints about the use of loudspeakers also surfaced, particularly in areas like Tangra and Pragati Maidan.
Last year, around 15 complaints were registered by late evening on the first day of Chhath. This year, Chhath revellers at Paddapukur were found bursting chocolate bombs while a DJ played at full blast, violating the tranquility that usually accompanies the festival.
In contrast, Jodhpur Park jheel emerged as a welcoming alternative site for devotees to perform their rituals. It showcased disciplined and responsible Chhath celebrations, devoid of firecrackers and DJ music.
The civic administration, in collaboration with the police, established seven ghats with wooden planks, providing temporary changing rooms for devotees. Disaster management personnel monitored the devotees from inflatable rubber boats to prevent any mishaps.
Avikal Mishra of Mudiali was satisfied that devotees had chosen alternative sites, respecting the environmental sanctity of the festival.