A group of Spaniards will take on the city’s local govindas for their prized pot of white butter this year. On Monday, the Castellers de Vilafranca, a world record-holding group that has even performed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, will literally rise to the occasion as they make way to the city for the dahi handi celebrations.
“The govindas here are very similar to the castellers in Spain. The only difference, I guess is that we are not chasing a pot in the air, but just altitude,” says Marc Perello, a Spanish casteller, who is currently living in Mumbai.
The Castellers de Vilafranca, which was founded in 1948, has grown exponentially over the years.
Last year, fifteen of Perello’s fellow castellers came to the city to partake in the Janamashtami celebrations. This time, over 200 of them will take participate.
“It all started four years ago. I had recently moved to the city and I found the dahi handi celebrations very similar to our festival. So, we thought of an exchange programme of sorts,” says Perello, adding, “Last year we took members of two small mandals to Barcelona.”
Backed by Nationalist Congress Party’s Jitendra Awhad, the team of Spanish Castellers, led by David Miret, are will attempt a 9-tier pyramid at Thane. “For a group of 200, that’s quite ambitious,” says Perello. A modest thing to say considering the group has been one of the few across the world to have successfully attempted the 10-tier pyramid.
“The whole group comprises of around 600 members, but not all of them are in Mumbai. We may try and attempt the perfect 10 with the help of the local govindas here. And if we succeed, it’ll be a first for the city,” Perello adds. Ask them how the troupe plans to celebrate post the big climb? “We want to share our culture, so we will perform at a school in Thane for underprivileged children, which is supported by Spanish NGO Mumbai Smiles.”
And if you are game for a piece of the Spanish sport, Perello adds, “Everyone’s invited! It’s quite a spectacle, so we thought of performing against the backdrop of the city’s picturesque Gateway on Tuesday evening.”
* Castellers comes from the word Castle. The Castells are mainly from the Catalonia region of Spain. The tradition of building human towers started in the 18th century and goes on till date.
* The art of building towers is considered a success when stages of its assembling and
disassembling, can be done in complete succession.
* Another variation similar to the Castells’ and Dahi Handi
celebration is Valencia’s Muixeranga. It is an artistic, acrobatic dance that features human castles and is annually celebrated on September 7 and 8 to honour the Virgin of Health.