Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday urged the Centre to issue guidelines for the Chhath festival as soon as possible after consulting health experts. Celebration of Chhath in public places has been prohibited by the Delhi government in view of COVID-19, leading to protests by the BJP.
In a letter to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Sisodia said Chhath is a historic festival celebrated in north India, including Delhi, with much devotion.
"Especially, people from Purvanchal celebrate this festival with deep faith and sacrifice. It is also celebrated very dedicatedly in Delhi every year. This year too Purvanchali people are eagerly awaiting celebrations of Chhath with their families and dear ones," he wrote.
Last year, decisions to celebrate Chhath were taken in the country as per directions of the government of India in view of the pandemic, Sisodia said.
"As you are aware, the whole country, including Delhi, has faced the situation caused by Covid in an unprecedented manner in the past 18 months.
Last year too, keeping in view the threat of Covid, decisions were taken to celebrate Chhath in the country as per directions of the government of India," he wrote.
Chhath celebration on riverbanks, water bodies, and other public places in Delhi was banned last year as well, Sisodia added.
The deputy chief minister urged Mandaviya to issue guidelines after consultations with health experts and others so that people in north India can celebrate Chhath with devotion and safety.
Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said the decision to prohibit Chhath celebration in public places was taken in view of the health and safety of the people due to COVID-19.
However, the BJP has alleged that the Kejriwal government's ban on the celebration of Chhath in public places is an insult to Purvanchali people.
North East Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari even took out a Chhath Rath Yatra against the city government's decision.
Tiwari was injured on Tuesday after being hit by a water cannon discharge while trying to scale a police barricade during a protest near Chief Minister Kejriwal's house against the ban on Chhath celebrations at public places, party leaders said.
Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said during the protest that the party-ruled municipal corporations will make arrangements for Chhath celebrations.
Kejriwal had previously accused the opposition of doing "dirty politics" over the sensitive matter when asked about Tiwari's Rath Yatra.
Delhi BJP leaders have demanded that the Kejriwal government should send its proposal to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) for lifting the ban on Chhath celebration at riverbanks, water bodies, temples, and other public places.
"If the Chhath ban order was not withdrawn in 48 hours, around 60 lakh Purvanchalis in Delhi will pledge to uproot the government to save their pride," Tiwari had said earlier.
Celebrated after Diwali, Chhath involves an offering of 'Arghya' by fasting women to the Sun god in knee-deep water. Some experts believe coronavirus can spread rapidly through the water.