The Calcutta high court on Tuesday banned Chhath Puja processions across West Bengal while allowing only two persons per family to enter a water body to offer the puja.
Also, devotees have been barred from entering two of the largest lakes within the city, Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar. Earlier, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned Chhath Puja at Rabindra Sarobar.
“The court has banned Chhath Puja processions. Only two persons from a family can enter any water body to perform the puja. Devotees coming in vehicles will have to maintain social distance and not all will be allowed to get down,” said Sabyasachi Chatterjee, high court advocate.
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Other members of the family will have to observe Chhath Puja from home or in and around their home. Wearing of masks has been made mandatory at all stages.
Earlier in November, the high court had banned the bursting of crackers during all pujas, including the Kali Puja and Chhath Puja.
Also the police have been directed to ensure that no crackers are sold or used in Kolkata as crackers have already been banned till November 30 by the high court and the NGT.
Despite the NGT’s ban, hundreds of devotees broke open the gates of Rabindra Sarobar in November 2019 to perform the Chhath rituals. They even burst crackers and played drums at the Sarobar although the government had earmarked alternative water bodies in the city for conduct of the rituals. The incident made headlines and triggered a huge controversy.
“As far as the Subhas Sarobar and Rabindra Sarobar are concerned, in view of the subsisting order of the NGT, these water bodies will be totally out of bounds for Chhath Puja celebrations,” the Calcutta high court said in its order on Tuesday.
The state has been directed to impose restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC to restrict the number of people in any area to restrict the people.