As lakhs of people gathered across beaches to celebrate Chhat Puja, the mood was subdued and sombre.
What used to be a festival complemented with music shows, religious recitals and bursting of firecrackers, turned out to be solemn affair.
Sanjay Nirupam, Congress MP from North Mumbai, who has been organising the puja in Juhu beach every year, decided to cancel all cultural extravaganza and make it an occasion to pay tributes to Bal Thackeray.
“We did not cancel the puja as it is an important puja for several families. We only cancelled the celebrations and decided to make it quiet. Lakhs of people turned up like every other year,” said Nirupam.
Sonu Nigam’s show at Juhu Beach was cancelled.
Chhat Puja is an important festival in Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Mohan Mishra of the Bharatiya Janata Party said special rituals were performed for Balasaheb’s soul on the beach.
Devendra Singh, a resident of Malvani, performed the puja to the Sun God at Marve beach. “The turnout was the same but the atmosphere was different. There was a tinge of sorrow in everyone’s heart. Apart from praying for our families’ prosperity and well-being, we also prayed for Balasaheb’s soul and his family.”
He also added that there were no entertainment programmes or other activities this year.
Amit Jha, a resident of Borivli, who performed the puja by the Dahisar river, said that mood was not upbeat. “We give a lot of importance to the Sun God. The puja ensures longevity and well-being of family members. The focus this time diverted to Balasaheb and prayers for his soul.”