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IMAGES: Govindas protest SC Dahi Handi rule

Last updated on: August 25, 2016 22:19 IST

Thousands of youth clad in colourful robes joined the Dahi Handi celebrations across Maharashtra to mark Krishna Janmashtami on Thursday, with some of the 'mandals' allegedly flouting the 20-feet ceiling for human pyramids mandated by the Supreme Court.

IMAGE: Govindas in Dadar form a human pyramid on the road to protest the Supreme Court order. All Photographs: Sahil Salvi

A sporting tradition that blends devotion with fun, frolic and adventure, Dahi Handi recaptures the fondness of Krishna as a child for butter with scores of youth joining shoulder-to-shoulder to build a human pyramid, through which the aspiring winner scales to hit the curd-filled earthen pot strung over head.

The apex court had on Wednesday made it clear that no human pyramid could cross 20 feet in height, concerned over casualties and injuries suffered by 'Govindas', as participants are known, in previous years.

Cases had been registered against 16 Govinda mandals in Thane, adjoining Mumbai for allegedly flouting court guidelines, a senior police official said.

IMAGE: A defiant Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader argues with cop while wearing a T-shirt saying 'he will break the rules'.

A media report said a Dahi Handi in Thane was allegedly strung up at 49 feet, more than double the height allowed by the Supreme Court, whose organiser was said to be associated with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. The MNS along with Shiv Sena has expressed reservations over the court order.

An MNS worker was also seen as wearing a T-Shirt on which 'I will break the law' was written in Marathi.

Barring minor injuries to 15 participants, no untoward incident had been reported in Mumbai till evening, where no violation of the apex court norm had been reported, police said.

At Dadar in Mumbai, some Dahi Handi mandal members lay on the ground and created a 'sleeping pyramid' exceeding the 20-feet norm. While another mandal used a ladder to break the pot and also displayed a black flag, apparently to protest against the SC ruling on the festival.

IMAGE: MNS-backed Jai Jawan Govinda Mandal formed a 9-tier human pyramid with a height more than 40 feet at Bhagwati Maidan in Mumbai, flouting Supreme Court guidelines.

With over 3,300 mandals (orgasming units) arranging Dahi Handi events across Mumbai and adjoining areas, police video-recorded the competitions to ascertain if there had been violation of the Supreme Court order.

The police had already issued notices to organisers informing them of the court order and that they would record every human pyramid.

The police said they would go through the video footages and, if any violation of norms is found, action will be taken against the organisers.

IMAGE: A ladder was used at one of Dahi Handi celebrations after the SC banned human pyramids higher than 20 feet.

The court had on August 17 refused to relax conditions put earlier by the Bombay high court like barring youth below 18 years of age from participating in Dahi Handi festival and capping the height of the human pyramid at 20 feet.

The SC bench rejected the contention that the festival had the colour of popular sport and there should be no cap on the height of the pyramid since the court has already barred youth below 18 years of age from taking part in it.

A fresh plea was filed in the apex court by Jai Jawan Krida Mandal Govinda Pathak in a last ditch attempt to get over the restriction, which was also turned down by the apex court.

IMAGE: Black flags were shown at several places to protest the apex court order.

Voicing reservation over the court directions on Dahi Handi celebrations, the Shiv Sena said the government should have come out with an ordinance reversing the order.

Sena said the police, instead of going about their duty of catching criminals, will now have to roam around places to ensure the implementation of the SC's guidelines and keep a watch on the height of human pyramids and age of 'govindas'. 

The SC order had also stirred sharp reaction from Dahi Handi organisers, who contended that the restrictions would hamper the grandeur of the celebrations.

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