INDIA. Mumbai: The Krishna Janmashtami, a Hindu festival in honour of the birth of Lord Krishna, was celebrated with pomp and enthusiasm in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, and other parts of Maharashtra on Friday.
Over 1000 groups of youth (Govinda Pathaks) visited different places and formed human pyramids to smash an earthen pot of curd suspended mid-air. The “Dahi-Handi” sport has now been recognized as a state sport, getting pan India recognition.
The colour and collective fervour of ”Dahi Handi”, a part of the Janmashtami, has already been transported from Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai, to countless homes thanks to Bollywood songs through the decades. At most places, the organizers installed the “Dahi Handi” so Govinda Pathaks could reach it by forming a human pyramid of 5 to 9-tiers.
It may be recalled that in 2012, the “Jai Jawan Govinda Pathak” from Jogeshwari in North Mumbai made an entry into the Guinness World Record by forming a human pyramid of 9-tiers 43.79 feet (13.35 m) at the Dahi Handi event held in Thane, the previous record was held by Spain since 1981.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited Tembhi Naka “Dahi Handi Utsav Mandal” in Thane. Here the Dahi Handi celebration was started by the late Anand Dighe. Shinde subsequently visited nearly a dozen Mandals and participated in the festivities. The rebel Shiv Sena MLA Shahaji Bapur Patil (Sangola, Solapur) also accompanied him.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the Mandals at Worli and other places. Similarly, the Shiv Sena MLA and former Minister Aditya Uddhav Thackeray visited several Mandals.
The prize money ranged from Rs 25000 to Rs 11/-lakh depending on the organizers and sponsors. It was after two years gap due Corona pandemic the festival was celebrated with more enthusiasm this time.
In Bhandup village in Northeast Mumbai, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena had installed a 9-layer Dahi Handi and had announced the prizes worth Rs 11 lakh. Similarly, the Dahi Handis were installed by the Shiv Sena across Mumbai. In Andheri, separate Dahi handis were established for girls and boys. Former Corporator Shailesh Phanse, Upvibhag Pramukh Rajesh Shetye, and others participated in the celebration.
At Dadar East in Central Mumbai, the four-layer Handi set up by the Nayan Foundation was smashed by “Sai Datt Mitra Mandal”, a group of blind Govindas. A Mandal in Panvel (Raigad district) installed the Dahi Handi in keeping with its 276-year-old tradition. Yet another tallest Dahi Handi was installed by Avinash Jadhav of the “Konkancha Raja Dahi Handi Mandal” in Thane.
In Nagpur, the “Sheetal Mata Mahila Mandal” bagged the prize of Rs 51,000/- by smashing 20 feet tall Dahi Handi. Similarly, the “Jai Bholeshwar Krida Mandal, Nagpur” (boy’s group) won the prize of Rs 2.22 lakh by reaching 30 feet in height.
The Dahi Handi was also installed at the famous Shree Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan at Shirdi in Ahmednagar. Actress Sapna Chowdhary performed at a function organized by Deep Jyot Group in Beed in the Marathwada region.
The Maharashtra Government on Thursday announced the Dahi handi as an adventure sport and recognized it as a “Pro-Govinda”.
The Govt also announced an insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh to Govindas. Besides, it also ensured reservation in Govt jobs for Govindas. Additionally, the Govt announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to next of kin who lose life while participating in the Dahi Handi event.
Similarly, the compensation of Rs 5 lakh was declared for the injured. In addition, the Govt had instructed the Govt and semi-Govt Hospitals to treat the injured Govinda free of cost.
In a rare incident at Harne Paj Pandhari village in Dapoli in Ratnagiri, the Govinda- Vasant Laya Chowgle died from a heart attack while dancing in the procession.
Meanwhile, nearly 111 Govindas were injured in and around Mumbai while participating in the sport. Of these, 23 were admitted to various hospitals, including the J J Hospital, St George, G T, Nair, and KEM Hospital.
The others were allowed to leave after treatment. Former Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited various hospitals and inquired about the injuries. Janmashtami celebrations were reported in neighbouring Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.