The first day of Chhath Puja commenced on Monday as devotees took a dip in the Yamuna river near Kalindi Kunj. Devotees, however, expressed disappointment with the quality of water in the river as a thick layer of toxic foam could be seen on the surface of the river due to rising pollution levels in the national capital.
"Taking a dip in the river has significance in Chhath Puja. I have come here but the water is dirty. It is causing a lot of problems for us. Diseases can also happen due to this. But we are helpless. The cleanliness of water and ghats is much better in Bihar. Delhi government should make sure that the ghats are cleaned," said Kalpana.
Sushma, who was also there for a dip, added, "The water is extremely dirty, but what we can do? We have to take our bath. I am from Banka, Bihar. The water in Sultanganj is really good. But we had to come here since our family lives here."
Shakeel, a local resident, highlighted that the foam has been there for about a month now.
"I am a diver and have been living here for the last 25 years. People bathe using soaps and shampoos and wash their clothes too. Water from every household and water from drains is coming here. This results in the formation of the foam. This foam has been forming in the river for a month," he said.
According to experts, the toxic foam is due to high phosphate content following the discharge of industrial pollutants including detergents into the river. Ammonia levels in the river have also been increasing.
Chhath Puja is dedicated to the Sun God and is mainly observed by the people from Bihar, Jharkhand and bordering areas in Uttar Pradesh.
As per the Hindu tradition, devotees worship the Sun God and his wife Usha to express gratitude and seek their blessings. Devotees gather and take a holy dip in rivers, ponds, and other water bodies during the four-day festivities.
This year, the festival began on November 8 with the 'Nahai Khai' ritual and will conclude on November 11 with devotees performing 'Usha Arghya' (prayers to the rising sun).
The main celebration is on November 10 when devotees will offer 'argha' to Sun God.
(With inputs from agencies)