Mumbai : Janmashtami Mandals which form human pyramids more than 35 feet high invariably use five-year olds to reach the summit in violation of the law.
Six-year-old Sanvi Raut from Siddheswar Seva Mandal in Prabhadevi has been clambering atop a six-tier human pyramid for the past three years. Five-year-old Mayang Singh from Jay Bhavani Kreeda Mandal in Worli’s Bavan Chawl scaled a seven-tier pyramid during a rehearsal on Saturday.
Last year, two 9-year-old boys, Bhushan Sharma and Sukarya Wagh were among the youngest to be injured. Both were from Thane and suffered fractures.
Child rights activists say this is violative of section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, which deals with care and safety of the child. “No child can take the decision on his/her own. Parents are to be held responsible for the child’s action in such cases,’’ said Santosh Shinde of Bal Prafullta, a child welfare organisation.
Sanvi’s mother, Sarika, said he husband and his brothers participate in Janmashtami celebrations and her daughter just followed in their footsteps. “If she is nervous while climbing up, she calls me on the cell phone and I give her a pep talk,’’ said Sarika. Asked why she was risking her daughter’s life, she said, “This will help my daughter conquer fear.’’
Mayang’s father, Mahendra Pratap Singh, an advocate, said, “I did not force my kid. He went on his own. But I am happy that he reaches the summit.’’ Asked about the risk, he said, “There is an element of risk in all games. I have myself been a Govinda and my position was in the fourth tier.’’
Jai Jawan Kreeda Mandal of Jogeshwari, which created a record of 44 feet with nine-tiers at Thane’s Vartak Nagar last year, says it is okay to place children above the age of six at the apex. “Our record-breaking effort had an eleven-year-old boy at the top,’’ said Sandeep Dhavale, the trainer of the mandal.
Additional chief secretary (education and sports) J S Saharia said he knew that five-year-old children are being used as Govindas but the matter did not fall under his purview.
Sanjay Dalvi who made a documentary on `dahi handis’, `Dahi Handi sathi vattel te’ (Anything for Dahi Handis), said that it was wrong to expose a child to so much risk.
The documentary probes the practice of raising the height of the dahi handis to impossible limits. The documentary film maker interviewed the parents of Praveen Bhuwad, a 19-year-old youngster who died in 2009 at Bhoiwada. The parents said that the commercialisation of the festival should stop.
Radha Kokate, a housewife from Dadar said that some political parties announce a huge prize amount as a ‘gift’ for breaking the dahi handi tied at a height. “Human pyramids not more than 3-4 tier should be allowed. Lord Krishna and his followers never must have attempted such feats,’’ she added.