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Safe Chhath at home & away

More than 250,000 people descended on ghats around Ranchi on Monday evening and Tuesday morning to offer Chhath prayers, while hundreds who travelled that extra mile or made arrangements at home to avoid the surging crowds, an integral part of the festival that passed off peacefully.

Automobile executive Kunal Verma hired a car to drive to the capital from Bhubaneswar, 600km away, so that he could celebrate Chhath with his family here. Once in Ranchi, he and his family went to the banks of Jumar, 10km from his Dangratoli residence, for the twin rituals.

“Celebrating Chhath in Ranchi is a unique experience,” said Verma, who felt being with family and friends away from mad bustle in the heart of the city made the rituals all the more meaningful.

Going a little further to make the experience more special was the family of Dr Santosh Choudhary, who drove to Getalsud Dam, 30km away from their Lowadih home. “The reservoir is situated away from the main city and doing the rituals in the clear and calm waters is a different experience,” said Choudhary as he munched on thekuas and shared them with others around.

And then there were those who made their very own provisional ponds at home.

Kokar resident Bishnu Pandit avoided the maddening crowd at Powerhouse pond, which is a stone’s throw from his home. A miniature artificial tank was erected on the third floor of the building to allow his family to offer prayers in peace.

At Chitragupta Nagar Colony in Bariatu, six families got together to construct a concrete reservoir. The families included that of Arun Kumar Sinha and retired IPS officer A.K. Verma. “We could offer arghya in a better and organised way here rather than doing the rituals in packed ghats,” said Sinha.

Meanwhile, popular ponds like Joda Talab, Line Tank Pond, Bada Talab, Powerhouse Talab, Hatania Talab and the banks of the Subernarekha River were packed to capacity on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

The district administration and local committees made elaborate arrangements to make the festivities as safe as possible. Many vratis piled sandbags on the ghats to prevent people from slipping into the water and drowning.

District sources said over 2.5 lakh devotees thronged 25 spots to offer prayers. “We had uniformed policemen an those in plainclothes at all the venues. At every ghat, 500 personnel were deputed besides volunteers to manage traffic and clear the path for devotees,” said city SP Vipul Shukla who visited Line Tank Talab and other venues.

Traffic was stopped along NH-33 near Jumar (Ranchi-Hazaribagh road) and Subernarekha (Ranchi-Jamshedpur road) for almost two hours on November 19 evening and November 20 morning for smooth passage of vratis.

Chief minister Arjun Munda offered evening arghya on Monday with his wife Meera at Line Tank pond. Former Ranchi MP Ramtahal Choudhary was present at Jumar along with his followers to help vratis.

Local BJP MLA and Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh was at Powerhouse Talab in Kokar. Former Union tourism minister and Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay also greeted people at the same venue.