INDIA. Mumbai: Despite heavy downpours, the “Dahi Handi” was celebrated as part of Krishna Janmashtami (the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna) with joy and enthusiasm in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Thane, and adjoining areas on Thursday.
The Dahi Handi tradition symbolises Lord Krishna’s playfulness and his love for butter and curd. The celebrations commemorate his act of eating curd hung at a height when he was a child. As per Hindu scriptures, Lord Krishna and his friends used to form human pyramids to break pots hung from the ceilings of neighbourhood houses to steal curd and butter in Vrindavan (Uttar Pradesh).
Over 800 Govinda Pathaks (groups) in Mumbai vied with each other to break Dahi Handis (earthen pots filled with curd suspended in the air) to bag the prize money announced by the sponsors. The women groups participated in equal numbers and exhibited their skills in this adventure sport in which multi-tiered human pyramids are formed to reach the top.
Dahi handis decorated with flowers were seen hoisted many feet above the ground at several housing societies, roads, junctions, and public grounds across the city. Dressed in colourful attires, Govindas visited different places in trucks, tempos, buses, and two-wheelers. The festive spirit was high in Marathi-dominated pockets like Parel, Lalbaug, Worli, Dadar, Bhandup, Mulund, Goregaon and Andheri. Popular Bollywood songs about the festival were blaring from speakers at every nook and corner of the city.
The prize money ranged from Rs 7000 to Rs two lakh. Roughly 06 layers fetched the prize of Rs 7,000/-, 07 layers-Rs 15,000/- and 08 layers-Rs 25,000/ to. Rs 50,000/- The 09 and 10 layers were offered Rs one to Rs two lakh.
The big Mandals -Shri Sankalp Pratishthan Charitable Trust (BJP sponsored), Jambori Maidan, Worli. Kalidas Kolambkar’s Dahi Handi, Wadala, Ram Kadam’s Dahi Handi at Ghatkopar in Mumbai and Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan, Vartak Nagar and Sangharsh Pratishthan, Panchpakhadi in Thane continued their tradition of celebrating the festival on a large scale with multi-layered Dahi Handis.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited nearly 30 Dahi Handi Mandals in Mumbai and Thane. Speaking at Tembhi Naka Mandal set up by Shiv Sena leader late Anand Dighe, Shinde said that insurance has been taken for Govindas, and the state government has also decided to provide financial assistance in case of an accident to Govindas.
MNS Chief Raj Thackeray attended the Dahi Handi celebrations organised by party office bearer Avinash Jadhav in Thane, while Shiv Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray joined the celebrations at party headquarters Shiv Sena Bhavan at Dadar in Central Mumbai. A large number of Bollywood celebrities joined the celebration at different venues.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had kept 125 beds ready at civic hospitals for the treatment of the Govindas if they got injured after falling while making human pyramids.
In Mumbai, nearly 35 Govindas were injured. Four were admitted to hospitals – two each in KEM Hospital at Parel in central Mumbai and Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar in North East Mumbai. Twenty-two Govindas were getting treatment at the outpatient departments (OPDs) in state-run and municipal hospitals.
In Thane, 13 Govindas, including a female Govinda, were injured. While female Govinda was shifted to Mumbai for treatment, 08 Govindas were given medicare at Kalwa Hospital, and 04 others were treated at Government Hospital, Thane.
In an unfortunate incident at Mansingpura in Devulgaon Raja in Buldhana in Vidarbha, Nida Rashid Khan Pathan (8) was killed while Alfia Shaikh Hafiz (9) was badly injured when a wall of a gallery to which a rope of the Dahi Handi was tied, collapsed.