No fear, just a lot of fervour | india | Hindustan Times
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No fear, just a lot of fervour

The swine flu scare has not diminished Mumbai’s enthusiasm for its festivals.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2009 01:37 IST
htmetro@hindustantimes.com

The swine flu scare has not diminished Mumbai’s enthusiasm for its festivals.

Big money was missing this time as political parties stayed away from the dahi handi celebrations, but the fervour in the city’s lanes and bylanes was exactly the same as it is every year. Take Worli’s BDD chawl, for instance. Its residents, always at the centre of not only dahi handi but most cultural festivities, decided that they needed no political support for their traditional fest. They went back to good old ‘apolitical’ community participation.

Youngsters and children erected little handis (pots of curd or turmeric water) at a height of two or three storeys and scrambled on top of each other, trying to reach the handi.

“I love to watch,” said Ashraf Khan (12), dressed in a white kurta and skullcap, as his friends struggled to form human pyramids, their faces grimy. “We have broken a third of the usual number of handis this year,” said Rajesh Mishra (28), a garment trader from Chembur who always joins his team of handi acrobats.

At Worli Naka, a handi hung between two buildings challenged droves of teams, who stood to win Rs 1 lakh if they broke it. Traditional hotspots like Parel and Kalachowkie were quiet. Naiguam legislator Kalidas Kolambkar organised a dahi handi at Parel offering Rs 11 lakh as the top prize but stayed away from the event.

Sai Krida Dutta Mandal, Dadar, continued its 36-year-old dahi handi tradition with a 63-foot-high handi and prize money of Rs 11,111. “Cancelling the festivities was not the way to stop the spread of swine flu,” said Yogesh Manjrekar, a spokesperson of the mandal.

The mandal distributed masks and sanitizers. “We come here every year as the mandal has pioneered dahi handi for women,” said Ushanki Sawant (23).

Some people played safe. “I haven’t missed dahi handi in 10 years. This year, I was wary due to swine flu,” said Dadar resident Ganesh Hadkar.

Six people were injured after a fight broke out between two groups at Bhoiwada. Thane, which has always witnessed large-scale celebrations, wore a deserted look.