The Jharkhand Government headed by CM Hemant Soren has banned Chhat Puja celebrations in water bodies apart from banning firecrackers as well. In a statement, the government said that the decision was taken in light of the Coronavirus pandemic as proper social distancing could not be ensured. It has also imposed various other restrictions in order to ensure that mass gatherings are prevented.
The government said in a statement, “The festival traditionally attracts huge congregations at Chhath Ghats. Due to the fixed timings of performing the aforementioned rituals, it is not possible to stagger these huge congregations to ensure social distancing.” “Therefore Chhath Puja in the waters of public pond/lakes/rivers/reservoirs/any other water body shall not be permitted so as to minimize the chances of spread of COVID-19 infection,” the statement added.
No stalls will be permitted to bet set up near the water bodies and restrictions have also been imposed on barricading and putting up special lighting by any individual on the ghats. Cultural programs have also been banned. The Chhat Puja spans over 4 days and is set to begin on the 18th of November.
Interestingly, however, Chief Minister Hemant Soren only recently participated at a public gathering flouting all social distancing norms. On the 9th of November, he offered a Chaddar at the Dargah of Hazrat Qutubuddin Risaldar Baba situated at Doranda, Ranchi. In the pictures and videos that are available, it is clear that all social distancing norms were violated and many of those present were not even wearing their masks properly.
There clearly appears to be two sets of Coronavirus rules, one for the ruling class and the other for the masses. While the government in its statement banning Chhat Puja emphasised on ‘2 gaz ki doori’, the head of government in the state Hemant Soren was himself flouting the norms his own government advocates for the masses.
Later, Hemant Soren told the media that he sought peace and prosperity for his state and also sought ‘dua’ to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in Jharkhand. As per reports, not only Hemant Soren, but Agriculture Minister Badal Patralekh was present on the occasion as well. The Public Relations Department of Jharkhand Government shared pictures of the occasion on its social media account.
मुख्यमंत्री श्री @HemantSorenJMM ने आज डोरंडा रांची स्थित हजरतकुतुबुद्दीन रिसालदार बाबा की दरगाह पर चादरपोशी की। मुख्यमंत्री ने उर्स के मुबारक मौके पर चादरपोशी करते हुए राज्य में अमन, चैन एवं तरक्की के लिए दुआएं मांगी। pic.twitter.com/1rd6GHy2fY— IPRD Jharkhand (@prdjharkhand) November 9, 2020
There is clearly a double standard here that cannot be ignored. While mass gatherings in public ought to be avoided during a pandemic, it appears that the Jharkhand government encourages one set of festivities while banning others.