Janmashtami 2023: Here's How People React To Dahi Handi Being Declared A Sport In Maharashtra

Janmashtami 2023: Here's How People React To Dahi Handi Being Declared A Sport In Maharashtra

Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated throughout India to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna

Neha SinghUpdated: Saturday, September 02, 2023, 10:49 PM IST
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Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated throughout India to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna Janmashtami occurs on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapad (the dark fortnight of the moon), or the eighth day of the waning phase of the moon, according to the Hindu calendar.

Devotees take Sankalpa after complete morning rites and perform Krishna Puja at midnight, according to Vedic timekeeping. The idol of Baby Krishna is cleaned with Pancha Amrit, adorned in new clothing and ornaments, and worshiped in a cradle with flowers, fruits, and sweets.

Dahi Handi — where a tower of humans strives to break a pot of curd — ceremony is a symbol of Lord Krishna’s legendary stealing the white butter, curd, and milk. This has been an integral part of Janmashtami celebrations in Maharashtra since more than a century. Varied precincts of the city have groups that gear up in advance to meet the expectations of their neighbourhood. They practice swift building of the human tower for weeks. The matka (pot) and the money around it is the prize for the efforts put in by the team. Healthy competition has always existed in different teams who vie for the prize money.

Last year, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced Dahi Handi as an official sport. This year, the state government conducted the first official Pro Govinda League at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) in Worli on August 31.

The decision to convert the festive activity into a Pro League Sport came after a lot of debate. "It was the dream of MLA Pratap Sarnaik Sir to recognise Dahi Handi as a sport just like Pro Kabbadi. Pro Govinda League should go to national and international levels too, says Arun Patil, President of, the Dahi Handi Association (Maharashtra). “Pro Govinda is the first step in this direction. In the finals, 14 teams have been selected from the trails. A few female teams have also applied.”

The first Pro Govinda League was won by Jai Jawan Pathak with eight layers to the human tower. This tournament has opened the gates for many govindas. "We used to play Dahi Handi on Janmashtami at the beginning of the festival. But now that it has been declared a sport, there are chances that this sport may happen twice or three times a year. It is a big deal for many of us who will now be recognised as sportspersons and will get the perks that follow," avers Nitin Deshmukh, one of the Govindas. 

Many individuals are praising this decision. Madhurika Patkar, an Indian table tennis player, and Commonwealth Games gold medalist, opines, "This Dahi Handi sport requires many skills like strength, balance, intellectual techniques, etc. Like every sport, it requires training and safety measures. I think making Dahi Handi an official sport is a good decision, as it will help the participants gain recognition. As earlier, there were many causalities during dahi handi, and now that it has become a sport, the organizers are taking good care of their safety measures."

Whenever we do something new, there is always excitement, enthusiasm, craze, etc. The first Pro Govinda League received a bumper response. The real question is: will there be the same craze for this sport next year too? 

"The craze of Govindas has always been there, and it will be. If you look at history, there used to be competition between chawls in Mumbai and Thane. The government has made this sport more safe. Every year, we hear news about at least 10 to 15 casualties happening everywhere. But now the government has come up with insurance that will cover all the Govinda's health. So that is the biggest achievement for the game itself," expresses Nilesh Pathak, an athletic coach. 

If a decade ago someone had said that Dahi Handi will become a sport, no one will ever believe it. But now, times have changed. Who thought that Govindas dedication and festive fervour would make it into a sport?

After the Pro League, the Govinda teams are looking forward to the real Dahi Handi that will take place on September 7.

Whether it is a sport or a festival, the enthusiasm of the people always makes it special.

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