Dahi handi events endorsed by politicians will be a low-key affair this year owing to the drought situation in parts of Maharashtra and the new rules imposed by the government.
In fact, one of the most-popular dahi handi celebrations, hosted by NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad in Thane through the Sangharsh Pratishthan Mandal, has been cancelled.
In 2014, Awhad had announced a Rs 1 crore award to mandals forming 10-tiered human pyramids to break the handi.
“The drought situation in the state has taken a dangerous turn. The city too may face scarcity of water as it has not been raining. In such a scenario, it would be inhuman to celebrate when most people in the state are going through a tough time. So we have decided to cancel the event,” said Awhad.
He added that the restrictions put forth by the government are so complicated that setting up loudspeakers and banners for the event will be difficult.
BJP legislator from Ghatkopar Ram Kadam, who was previously with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and frequently competed with Awhad over the prize money and pyramids, had vowed that the prize money from the mandal that is kept aside for the winners will be donated to the drought-affected people of Marathwada.
Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik, however, slammed Awhad and said he was playing a political game by making such announcements.
“The same person held the festival with much fanfare last year, when farmers were committing suicide in the state. It is all a drama,” said Sarnaik.
The Sena leader said he will organise the festival and award every pyramid that attempts to break the handi.
“It is a Hindu festival and we will celebrate it with the same simplicity we do it every year. The state government’s rules are for the safety of participants and we will follow them,” he added.