Shadow over festival: Subernarekha ghat on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The East Singhbhum administration’s preparations for Chhath have been hit hard by the increasing water level at Subernarekha and Kharkai.
The administration has deferred the cleaning of riverbanks after most of them were found submerged on Tuesday. The authorities also declared two popular ghats — Kapali (Subernarekha) in Sonari and Baroda (Kharkai) in Bagbera — as dangerous for devotees.
Dhalbhum subdivisional magistrate Prem Ranjan, who inspected the riverbanks along with Jusco officials on Tuesday morning, said the administration had little to do unless the water receded.
“Both rivers swelled up in the wake of cyclone Phailin and heavy rainfall caused by low pressure troughs. However, the weather improved today (Tuesday) and we are closely monitoring the water level. On November 5, we will make a final assessment and decide accordingly,” said Ranjan.
This year, sandhya arghya — evening offerings during Chhath — will take place on November 8, while suryodaya arghya (morning offerings) will be held on November 9.
Central Peace Committee, which works hand in hand with the district administration to organise the festival, has appealed to devotees to make arrangements for performing the arghya in artificial water bodies in their localities.
“It will not be wise to offer arghya in the swelling waters. It will be better if devotees use tanks or ponds in their localities,” said Ram Babu Singh, secretary of the outfit.
Devotees are equally worried over the possibility of more rains. “The ghats are already slippery with mud and slush. A fresh bout of rain can lead to more hardships,” said Golmuri resident Manju Devi.
Chhath rituals are performed in 30 ghats across the city and neighbouring areas.
The two “unsafe” banks have been hosting Chhath festivities for more than five decades. While the Baroda ghat draws between 500-800 devotees from Jugsalai and Bagbera every year, Kapali witnesses a footfall of around 500 from Sonari, Northern Town and Circuit House.