There will be no Dahi Handi celebration this year, the Maharashtra government announced. The announcement was made after the task force on Covid-19 warned of a surge in cases if any Govinda is infected.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently held a virtual meeting with the Dahi Handi mandals, which had proposed to celebrate the festival by following the Covid-19 protocols. Dahi Handi marks the birth of Lord Krishna.
The CM insisted that the government's priority is to combat the virus. He called upon the organisers of the upcoming Dahi Handi festival to set an example for other states. “We must first banish Covid-19 completely,” he added.
The Chief Minister’s Office, in a statement, said Dahi Handi organisers responded positively to Thackeray's appeal and spoke about holding social and health activities to mark the birth of Lord Krishna.
Thackeray said the entire world is reeling under the pandemic. "Countries that have vaccinated most of their citizens are feeling the heat of a third wave of the pandemic and are enforcing a lockdown again," he said. The second wave is receding in some districts, but it is at a peak in other places. "This is a window that we have to utilise to ensure that the livelihood of people is not impacted and the economic cycle continues," he said. The Shiv Sena chief reiterated that a lockdown will have to be imposed again if the daily demand for oxygen crosses 750 metric tonnes in Maharashtra.
The task force chief Dr Sanjay Oak, at the meeting, explained how the Delta Plus variant is deadly. “The pandemic drew attention to the fact that we are losing our loved ones today. My appeal is to celebrate this festival by donating blood, medicines and devices to keep the spirit up,” he said. "Face masks are of no use if they get wet in water. The variant is spreading fast. If one person is infected, the entire group runs the risk of contracting it," added Dr Oak.
BJP opposes move
The BJP, however, demanded that permission should be given to celebrate Dahi Handi under certain conditions. "Those who have taken both the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine must be allowed to organise the traditional Dahi Handi at a low height without crowding. The festival should not be banned," said BJP MLA Ashish Shelar.
On the other hand, another BJP legislator Ram Kadam claimed, despite the state government’s ban, the festival will be celebrated. “We will celebrate it, as it is the festival of Hindus. The government asks to show restraint only during Hindu festivals.”
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