Mumbai: A touch of glitter and a dash of glamour, laced with safety and security, marked the ‘dahi-handi’ celebrations in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra on Monday. By noon however, nearly 10 youngsters fell and were injured at various venues while forming human pyramids and were rushed to hospitals, officials said.
Since morning, thousands of Govinda groups trooped out and fanned out all over the city and in places like Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur and others to form human pyramids and break the ‘dahi-handi’, an earthen pot having a delicious mixture of curd and butter, commemorating the birth and symbolizing the spirit of Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna’s birth was heralded amid prayers, chanting hymns, ringing bells and aartis at the two main venues in Mumbai — the ISKCON temples in Chowpatty and Juhu — at the midnight of Sunday-Monday, with a welcome drizzle in many parts of Mumbai.
“Thousands of devotees prayed here. The temple is decorated with a Rajasthani theme, focused on completely eco-friendly celebrations, and offering 1008 items offered to Lord Krishna as ‘bhog’ today, prepared by over 500 volunteers,” said ISKCON Radha Chowpatty head, Radhanath Swami.
The ‘dahi-handi’ festivities started in a big way with govind groups attired in colourful attires, fanning out all over the city to try their pot luck, with film stars like Raveena Tandon, Suniel Shetty joining the celebrations, and Maharashtrian ‘laavni’ dance performers regaling the crowds.
At many major venues in Borivali, Andheri, Dadar, Ghatkopar, Mulund and others, the govindas attempted to build up around five tiers to grab the ‘dahi-handi’ pot, and safety measures were evident. Among several large groups having political backing, the emphasis this year was less on doling out huge prize monies, but more on deriving hefty political mileage, with eyes on the 2019 general elections.
“This is the first year it is being celebrated as a ‘sport’ event with the participation of around 1,000 registered organisations in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts. They must strictly adhere to all safety precautions for the participating ‘Govindas’,” Bala Padelkar, head of Dahi-Handi Coordination Committee told IANS.
However, watchdog Lok Jagruti Samajik Sanstha President Swati Patil said that in most venues, the safety measures were blatantly flouted and children aged below 14 years were being foisted on top of the pyramids. “During a practice session in Khar four days ago, a 12-year-old boy Chirag Patekar from Khar, fell and has been in coma at a Bandra hospital. Who is responsible for his future now,” Patil demanded.
She accused several groups and organisers in Dadar and Chembur of flouting the Bombay High Court directives by not providing safety belts, safety harness, soft earth or mattresses to break the fall of the human pyramids, and has registered police complaints against at least five groups/organisations so far. In Dadar, after forming the pyramids, the govindas saluted the martyred soldiers, while the topmost govinda was clad in an army-style suit to salute Indian soldiers in a group in Walkeshwar.