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Maha 'Dahi handi' celebrations remain low-key

August 24, 2019 23:09 IST

As many as 51 'Govindas' were injured in Mumbai on Saturday during Dahi Handi celebrations, marking the birth of Lord Krishna, which remained subdued in the wake of floods in western Maharashtra.

Most of the injuries occurred due to falling while setting up human pyramids to break the 'dahi handi' or curd pitcher, said a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation official.

The celebrations remained low-key in other parts of the state as well.

He said 27 of the 51 Govindas or revellers were discharged after primary treatment while rest remained admitted in 12 civic-run hospitals across the city.

The usual fervour associated with the festival was missing this year as several dahi handi mandals and organisers of events decided to keep the celebrations low-key, to express solidarity with the people affected by the devastating floods.

Some of the mandals are also donating money for the flood relief work.

The dahi handi ritual is part of the Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra, where youngsters (called Govindas), dressed in colourful attire, make human pyramid to reach an earthen pot containing buttermilk and suspended in mid-air, and break it.

Gorakhnath Mahila Dahi Handi Pathak Mandal, an organisation of women Govindas, has decided to celebrate the festival just to keep the tradition alive.

"We are going to celebrate the dahi handi festival, but not with usual fervour. We will celebrate it just to keep our tradition on. We cannot forget the hardships our brothers and sisters are facing in parts of state due to severe floods," founder of the mandal Bhau Koregaonkar said.

"Our women Govindas will reach the place and just break the pot," he added.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Kadam, who is known for holding grand dahi handi events, has also decided to celebrate the festival this year without any glitter.

"We will celebrate this festival as part of our culture, but it will be done in a simple manner. There is no need to splurge money and the saved money will be sent to help the flood-hit brothers and sisters of the state," he said.

The festival was also celebrated in corporate offices. Celebrations were held in different areas like Dadar, Worli, Wadala, Ghatkopar, Andheri, Lokhandawala, Borivali,
Kandivali, Jogeshwari, Mulund and Vile Parle.

The Radha Gopinath temple of the Indian Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at Girgaum celebrated the festival in a traditional style.

ISKCON spiritual leader Radhanath Swami said Lord Krishna's teachings have been relevant since centuries.

On their part, Mumbai Police warned revelers against making noise and tweeted a photo appealing them to not violate norms.

'Mach Gaya Shor Saari Nagari, Within Permitted Decibels Only,' Mumbai Police tweeted.

The disaster management cell of the BMC was on alert to deal with any eventuality, while hospitals were asked to keep medical staff on standby.

In the past, several Govindas were injured after falling off human pyramids.

In neighbouring Dombivali in Thane district, police seized a 'Dahi Handi' depicting an Electronic Votimg Machine (EVM).

The handi was allegedly being put up by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena members. The Raj Thackeray-led party has been demanding that upcoming assembly elections in the state be held through ballot papers.

MNS members wearing black T-shirts shouted slogans against the Modi government.

Police and the activists clashed when the 'EVM dahi handi' was being seized.

Heavy rains and floods battered several areas of western Maharashtra and Konkan region earlier this month, with Kolhapur and Sangli districts bearing the maximum brunt. The floods claimed 58 lives in western Maharashtra.

IMAGES: Various Govinda mandals and common people participate in Dahi Handi celebrations at different places in Mumbai. Photographs: Satish Bodas and Sahil Salvi
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