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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Devotees busy, civic guardians busier
- Mud ovens for ritual cooking mark auspicious run-up to sun god worship; Bokaro clean-up in last lap

Chhath worshippers of Bokaro went to the banks of ponds and rivers on Friday morning to bring back auspicious mud for mounting mitti ka chulha (clay ovens) at home to cook prasad with ritual purity.

This chulha symbolising the sacred domestic fire marks the start of the solemn festival. The four-day Chhath starts from Saturday with nahai-khai a ritual dip, cleaning and preparation of vegetarian food followed by kharna, which special emphasis on the prasad on Sunday. On Monday and Tuesday, devotees will offer arghya or salutations to the setting and rising sun.

If devotees were busy collecting mud, no less industrious were Chas municipality chief Ganga Bhalotia, many ward councillors as well as Bokaro district board chairman Mihir Kumar Singh. They visited all major banks of Garga and directed labourers to clean up the mess and floating plastic in and around the river so that devotees could offer prayers with sanctity.

It is well known that during Chhath, Bokaro, Chas, Chandrapura, Bermo, Bokaro Thermal, Petarwar, Gomia, Chandankyari and other areas are cleanest.

Chhath, known as mahaparv in both Bihar and Jharkhand, also puts rivers and reservoirs under the ecological spotlight persuasively as the puja rituals require the devotee to personally take a dip in the water. It therefore becomes a civic must to remove polythene, floating garbage and algae at the onset of the festivities.

Major Chhath spots in Bokaro steel city are Surya Sarovar (opposite Administrative Building), Surya Mandir at Sector IV, banks of Garga and Damodar rivers, Cooling Pond, ponds at sectors XII, V, City Park and IV F.

These apart, five dozen ponds in this district have been cleaned and decked up to ensure that devotees dont face hygiene or security problems while offering arghya.

Bokaro DC Sunil Kumar, Chas Municipality head Ganga Bhalotia and chief executive officer Sandip Kumar, Bokaro district board chairman Mihir Kumar Singh as well as Bokaro Steel Limited senior officials (town administration) personally supervised arrangements near reservoirs and ghats.

We are posting divers and policemen at all major Chhath worship points to prevent untoward accidents on Monday and Tuesday, Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi told The Telegraph.

If long-suffering rivers and ponds get their annual spruce-up, crime takes a beating. In my 34-year-long career as a policeman, Ive observed that even hardened criminals and rebels have full faith in the sun god. They hardly indulge in unlawful activities during Chhath as they feel it would be a bad omen, said senior inspector S.P. Singh.