New Delhi: Thousands of devotees celebrating Chhath Puja gathered on the banks of the Yamuna river, lakes and canals in the national capital early this afternoon to pay obeisance to the Sun God on the third day of the festival.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet of ministers visited several Chhath ghats and greeted people on the occasion. Water minister Kapil Mishra took a boat ride to take stock of the preparations. Leaders from other political parties also met people at the ghats.
East Delhi Mayor Satya Sharma visited the ghats under the EDMC jurisdiction and greeted people on the occasion.
"The first day of 'Arghya' went off peacefully with large number of people gathering at Geeta Colony and Sonia Vihar ghats. The crowd is much bigger than last year, but we have made adequate arrangements," she said.
Married men and women observing the over 38-hour fast stood in knee-deep water and prayed for the well-being and prosperity of their families.
The observance on Sunday, as part of the four-day festival, saw people offering prayers at more than 50 major sites across the national capital. Thousands of devotees thronged Qudsia Ghat, Wazirabad Ghat, Rambagh Ghat, Kalindi Kunj Ghat, Sonia Vihar and Geeta Colony ghats.
For the first time, ghats in North Delhi had CCTV cameras to monitor the crowd. Delhi government and civic bodies had worked in tandem to ready the river banks, and making safety arrangements for people thronging the ghats.
Makeshift pandals, sandbanks, floodlights and barricades were put up at the ghats' premises.
Traffic police said traffic situation this time is better compared to last year, when there were huge snarls on roads. Apart from a few areas surrounding Kalindi Kunj Ghat and ITO, traffic was smooth in the other areas.
"Since Chhath Puja fell on a Sunday, there were no school buses. Many people preferred to stay indoors because of smog. We could manage the traffic situation," a senior traffic police officer said.
The age-old tradition of paying obeisance to the Sun God, is observed mainly by the people from Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh or Poorvanchalis. The national capital has a sizeable population of people hailing from these two states.
The puja starts with the ritual of 'Nahai-Khai', in which devotees prepare traditional food after bathing. The second day is 'Kharna', during which devotees observe a day-long fast which ends after sunset.
On the third day, the devotees stand in water and offer 'Arghya' to the setting sun. On the final day of the puja, devotees and their friends and relatives assemble at the river bank before sunrise and offer 'Arghya' to the rising sun.
With an aim to woo the Bihar-UP migrant community that is seen as a major voting population in the city, Kejriwal had announced that 'kachha' Chhath ghats will be made into 'pucca' ones by next year.