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Slice of Calcutta in Chhath

Hazaribagh, Nov. 18: A pandal, which looks like the Howrah Bridge in Calcutta, is the crowd-puller at a Chhath ghat in Giridih’s Rajdhanwar block, which is known for its celebrations akin to Durga Puja.

With a day to go before festivities begin tomorrow as devotees start offering arghya to the Sun God, people are already thronging the Raja Ghat in Rajdhanwar, 50km from the district headquarters.

Pankaj Kumar, a member of the organising body, said the practice of setting up pandals was started 12 years ago. This year, five pandals over 80ft high were in place. “But the main attraction is a replica of the Howrah Bridge of Calcutta, which has been made by artisans from Bengal. It has been drawing people in large numbers despite though it is not yet complete,” he added.

He said Rajdhanwar had a rivulet named after a local king, Raja Ratneshwari Narayan Deo, who used to celebrate Chhath at the ghat along with his queen.

The popular emblem of Calcutta has been recreated, linking one bank of the Raja Ghat River to a pandal.

Local residents voluntarily contribute sums to the organisers, who hire artisans from Bengal’s Nadia and Purulia districts to set up pandals here that replicate famous temples from across the country.

The popular feeling is if the locals celebrate a grand Chhath, it will bring them prosperity and happiness.

In one of the five pandals, that has been named Ram Durbaar, visitors can take a look at a staggering 116 idols retelling the story of Lord Ram from childhood and exile to his slaying of Ravan.

Sources said the convenor of the organising committee and noted industrialist Anup Sonthalia was monitoring the construction of pandals as well as lighting arrangements.

The pandals include a Durga mandap and a Sun temple.

Gopal Kumar, also an organiser, said a pandal raised in the middle of the river showcased several idols of gods and goddesses. Sources said the organisers had spent over Rs 30 lakh on the pandals.

Around 70 artisans were brought from Bengal, who started work a month ago.

“We can proudly say that Chhath is celebrated in Rajdhanwar in a unique manner. As a result, more than two lakh people from Giridih and outside visit here during Chhath,” said Kumar.