Mumbai: Days after the Free Press Journal reported that dahi handi activist Swati Patil wrote to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, state Cultural Affairs Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to restrict height of human pyramids while celebrating the festival, she wrote fresh letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah seeking similar directions after getting no response from the state government.
In the letter to PM Modi and Shah, Patil slammed the "commercialisation" of the "pious Hindu festival" under the supervision of the state government. CM Shinde is scheduled to take a meeting on the issue on September 4.
"Since there was no response from the government, I have written to the prime minister and home minister seeking their intervention," said Patil. In her letter, Patil stated that instances of two to three deaths of Govindas while celebrating the "pious" Hindu festival will make it "unpious". Some contents of the earlier letter to the state government were repeated.
In her earlier letter to the Maharashtra government, she had said that from Mathura to all parts of India, dahi handi is celebrated like a religious and pious festival. Only in Maharashtra, do people see such "commercialisation". The festival has been reduced to a "show" with increasing commercialisation and a competition promoted by political parties that happened under supervision of the state government.
Human pyramrid should be restricted to 20 feet
"Instead of restricting the height, the state government is giving it status of sports, it is conducting a pro-league event and even announced a brand ambassador for it," said Patil. The government should limit the height of Govindas to 20 feet as losing life or harming body parts was not worth it and any amount given under compensation could not cover the life lost, she added.
Dahi handi is celebrated a day after 'Krishna janmashtami' to relive Lord Krishna's acts of stealing curd and butter from a pot which his mother would tie at a height so that he could not get the same. Each year, dahi handi mandals replicate the same and govindas (those forming pyramids) attempt to break the record of the number of tiers of human pyramids.
"The chief minister has called for a meeting on the issue on September 4. The meeting is being called by the sports department, which in a way means that it will be covered under the sports department henceforth," said an official.