Lucknow readies 110 locations for Chhath celebrations
Millions of Bhojpuri-speaking people in Lucknow, India, are choosing to stay in the city for the Chhath celebrations, instead of returning home. The city, which is home to around 12 lakh Bhojpuri speakers, is expecting over 5 lakh people to gather at the Lakshman Mela Ground for the festivities. Artificial ponds have been created at 110 locations in the city to accommodate the large number of participants. The celebrations will feature cultural activities and have attracted the attention of political leaders. Crowd management arrangements have been made by the district administration, police, and civic bodies.
Even as millions from across Indian cities are heading home for Chhath, a significant population of Bhojpuri-speaking people have decided to stay back in Lucknow and mark the celebrations.
Even in previous years, lakhs of people turned up at ghats of River Gomti in the state capital to perform rituals as part of Chhath, primarily celebrated by people in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
From just a handful of people in 1984, Lucknow, which is said to be a home to 12 lakh Bhojpuri-speaking people, may see over 5 lakh people going to Lakshman Mela Ground (a ghat on Rana Pratap Marg) every day on three days, said the president of All India Bhojpuri Samaj, Prabhunath Rai.
Overall, Chhath festivities would be marked at 110 locations, where artificial ponds were created, in the city, officials of Bhojpuri associations said.
“In 1984, the city’s population was around 12 lakh. Today, the number of Bhojpuri speakers, who hail from eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, are more than that here. That’s why for Chhath Puja festivities, which saw the participation of just a few people in 1984, over 5 lakh people will be gathering at Lakshman Mela Ground. The sheer number of people necessitated for creation of artificial ponds at over 110 locations in the city,” Rai observed.
VK Srivastava, the vice-president of All India Bhojpuri Samaj, said: “Today, no Bhojpuri-speaker feels like an outsider in Lucknow because our Lucknowisation is complete. We’ve been holding Chhath Puja celebrations at Lakshman Mela ghat and the scale of the celebrations has only gotten bigger. Today, the tallest political leaders want to come to our puja stage because the Bhojpuri-speaking population in the city is around 12 lakh. The best thing is not only Bhojpuris have adopted the city, but even Lucknowites have also adopted us wholeheartedly.”
Basant Kumar, a government employee who originally hails from Patna, said, “Previously, my family regularly visited Patna for Chhath. But now we mark the festivities at Lakshman Mela Ghat because here everything is well-organised and clean.”
Neerja, who works at a private company here but is from Araria in Bihar, “Women feel safe even at nights during Chhath. Everything is well organised. There are no traffic jams, no dirt. So it’s much better here than in my hometown.”
Rai, meanwhile, added chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CM Brajesh Pathak and ministers Suresh Khanna, Swatantra Dev Singh and Jaiveer Singh had been invited for Chhath Puja.”
Also, 150 Bhojpuri artistes were expected to participate in an event organised at Lakshman Mela Ground. Cultural activities there were expected to continue for more than 18 hours without any breaks.
The district administration, police and civic bodies said they had made arrangements for crowd management between November 18 to 20.