Expressing dismay over Supreme Court’s verdict on the height restrictions of human pyramids, Mumbai’s Dahi Handi mandals have threatened to discontinue the event, saying the order has taken the sheen off festivities.
The court on Wednesday upheld the Mumbai high court’s order restricting the height of human pyramids and banning children under 18 from participating in the events of the August 25 festival.
The height of human pyramids has been restricted to 20 feet. According to mandals, the restriction will limit the number of tiers in the human pyramid to four. In Mumbai, big events hosted by politicians see seven or more tiers.
Mumbra-Kalwa NCP MLA, Jitendra Awhad, who organises the ‘Sangharsh Dahi Handi Festival’ in Thane, expressed anger over the verdict. “This is unfortunate. We will discontinue our Dahi Handi activity completely,” he said.
“Now we will have to decide whether to continue the activity. It was a means of entertainment and keeping tradition alive. More than we, citizens will be dejected,” said Prakash Surve, Shiv Sena MLA from Magathane, north Mumbai, who heads Taramati Charitable Foundation, which conducts major Dahi Handi activities in Borivali. “This was a good chance for kids to engage in extra-curricular activities,” he added.
“The court has done the right thing. People won’t get injured anymore. We will ask the police to keep a watch to ensure security and to make sure the guidelines are followed by the Dahi Handi groups as well as their participants,” said Swati Patil, secretary of Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sanstha, a Chembur-based NGO which had filed a contempt petition in the Bombay high court seeking an age limit for children and height limit for the human pyramids.
Patil said the rules will not detract from the celebrations associated with the festival. “It is not a ban on the festival, but the competition. It is a festival and people will celebrate. Some people will express dismay for a while, but they will be alright. The festival won’t stop,” she said.