Chhath Puja for Delhiites: Low-key celebrations, thekua #FOMO and makeshift ponds

The four-day Chhath Puja celebrations, which involve worshipping the Sun God, began in the Capital on Wednesday. But, this year most denizens say they will be celebrating the festival at home, after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) instructed officials to ensure the festival is not performed at public places, river banks and temples, in lieu of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Celebrate, but be safe

In the absence of large-scale celebrations at public places, residents of Delhi-NCR are celebrating Chhath at home, with makeshift arrangements of water. Nishant and Nivedita Mishra, Gurugram-based working professionals residing in Gurugram, say they miss being home in Patna, where their family has gathered for the festivities. “It would be a gathering of all near and dear ones, where prayers and party would go hand in hand. We can’t go this year because of Covid-19 situation, but we’ll make arrangements for the morning and evening puja at our terrace, and ask our mothers on video call about the rituals that we need to follow,” adds Nishant.

Swimming pool becomes makeshift pond

Youngsters who love the festival because it gives them a chance to meet relatives and enjoy get-togethers, will give it a miss this year. Noida-based Aaditya Chandra says, “In normal times we used to go and meet relatives, and have the puja together. However, this year we’ve decided that it’s best to celebrate at home and follow the norms of social distancing. While the decision may feel disappointing in the short-run, in the long term it’s for the overall benefit. The rituals which were to be done at the ghat, are going to be done in the society’s swimming pool.”

Some youngsters are happy to be home with their families since colleges are closed due to the pandemic, allowing them to have low-key celebrations while being at home with their dear ones. Ananya Jha, a Delhi University student, says, “My family gets together for Chhath, no matter what. Majority of my relatives are still gathering in a village in Madhubani district in Bihar this year. Right now due to the pandemic, I am back in Patna. Our apartment is collecting water in a makeshift perishable pond. Only one-two women will be fasting, on behalf of their families. We’ll be dressed up but we wouldn’t actively be participating in the rituals; we’ll just be spectators.”

Missing Thekua, Food and Fun

Many who have not been able to go back home for Chhath, due to the pandemic, say the biggest thing they miss about the festival is the food! “Everyone in my office was hoping I’ll go home and bring back thekua but I have postponed my trip until next year; I don’t want to travel and put my parents at risk. However, I’ve plans to try my hand at making thekua for my colleagues,” says Nemaly Lochan, who works for an MNC in Gurugram.

Mohit Bhatia, a second year student at a university in Greater Noida, says he’s also missing Chhath Puja savouries, especially the ones his friends used to bring from home. “Our classes are continuing online, and my friends who celebrate Chhath haven’t come back to Delhi yet. So I’m missing relishing the amazing thekua and poori that my friends would bring back from home. And knowing my friends, I know I’m going to be more jealous when they share pictures of their celebrations at home.”

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