| Devotees wait in a queue at Adalat Ghat on Wednesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
The administration in the state capital did not repeat the mistake, which it had committed during Chhath festival, on Kartik Purnima.
The result was visible — thousands of devotees gathered at various ghats of Patna amid tight security arrangements and took a dip in the Ganga without any chaos on Wednesday. Men, women and children in hundreds marched towards the ghats before sunrise with gathris (small bundle of clothes) to take a dip in the river. The crowd around Adalat Ghat near Ashok Rajpath swelled in leaps and bounds with devotees pouring in from across the city.
By 4am, a queue towards the banks of the Ganga had thousands of people. A strong contingent of police kept a close eye on everyone visiting the ghat. The police officials directed the devotees to maintain calm and keep moving.
“Dheere dheere line mein chale aur dhairya banaye rakhe. Aur ruke nahin. (Please move slowly in a queue without stopping),” a constable was heard announcing through a microphone at the entrance of the narrow Adalat Ghat lane leading to the Ganga. It was in this lane where 17 people died following a stampede on the third day of Chhath festival.
The devotees, however, did not want to talk about the misfortune that had struck the ghat during the Chhath. For them, it was the God’s wrath.
“The gods had that day (third day of Chhath) got angry. But we cannot stop worshipping Him. I have come here to seek forgiveness for the sins I have committed. It is a must to take a dip in the Ganga on Kartik Purnima,” Siwan resident Usha Devi (48) said.
The administration and the police, too, left no stone unturned to ensure security for the devotees. City superintendent of police Jayant Kant was at a tent since dawn. Police personnel paraded all along the sandy stretch, while many were stationed along the bri-dge connecting the riverbank. “We are alert and announcing the dos and don’ts that the devotees should maintain. National Disaster Response Force teams are patrolling on boats. The ghat has been properly illuminated,” an officer in the rank of the deputy superintendent of police said.
Small-time traders make hey during this time of the year by selling items required for the puja. One of them was seen selling plastic bottles for Rs 5. “People want to collect the holy water. I am selling bottles for them. It’s a kind of social service,” he said.
Another trader was seen with a goat. A policeman patrolling the area explained: “On Kartik Purnima, many people undertake daan (donation). The trader has bought the goat for around Rs 500. With devotees coming in, there would be many keen on buying the animal at a higher price. It will be then given as a daan to the Ganga. Once it is done, the trader will catch the goat and re-sell it. If luck favours, he will make Rs 5,000 today and the goat will ultimately stay with him.”
We hope the trader also takes a dip in the Ganga!