Mumbai: In view of the Covid-19 outbreak and the spike in the number of cases in N Ward (Ghatkopar), one of the worst-affected wards in the city, the BJP legislator from the Ghatkopar West assembly constituency and organiser of one of the biggest and richest dahi handis in Mumbai, Ram Kadam, has decided to cancel this year's celebrations. This will be the second year in a row that Kadam has been forced to strike out what he claims, is the biggest such event of its kind in the country.
N ward, that includes Ghatkopar and Vidyavihar, has reported 3,272 positive Covid-19 cases and is the eighth among the top ten worst-affected wards in the city.
Last year, Kadam had pulled out of the festival in the view of Sangli floods.
His dahi handi event is one of the biggest in the city and brings in a lot of Govinda Pathaks (groups participating in breaking the matkis). "Taking into account the coronavirus outbreak and the crowd that gathers, we have decided to cancel the dahi handi festival. However, we will celebrate the Krishna Janmashtami (the birth of Lord Krisha) in a simple way, with due precaution," said Kadam.The appearance of celebrities from the Hindi and Marathi film industry, the huge prize amount and the formation of the biggest human pyramid have been the key attractions of Kadam's dahi handi in Ghatkopar. Every year, more than four to five lakh people gather to watch the proceedings, including the Govinda Pathaks, who compete to form the biggest pyramid and break the handi to win cash prizes and more."Dahi Handi, the formation of pyramids and successfully breaking the handis is a prestigious matter for pathaks. I don't think this year any Dahi Kala celebration will take place, as the process of forming pyramids would mean a violation of physical distancing norms," said Swagat More, Chembur Jai Jawan Govinda Pathak.Janmashtami is followed by another major celebration - Ganesh Chaturthi. This year, many Ganesh mandals have either postponed Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations or have announced they will keep it low-key, to ensure physical distancing norms are not violated. On Thursday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also urged Ganesh mandals to conscientiously celebrate the festival without crowds and processions and implement socially useful programmes.Earlier this week, organisers of the 'Chinchpoklicha Chintamani' cancelled their century-old tradition of the Ganesh Aagman Sohla (welcoming ceremony of Lord Ganesha). Last month, even the GSB Mandal of Wadala announced its decision to postpone its Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations to February 2021.