Khuda Husain has religiously fasted through the Ramzan month. But, this 20-year-old Badlapur bus driver is more excited about Lord Krishna's birthday on Thursday, when he will stand shoulder to shoulder with his Maharashtrian friends as part of a dahi handi pyramid.
Though the human pyramid tradition emerged from Mumbai's Marathi working class culture, most mandals are peppered with Muslims, Christians and South Indians who give it a secular flavour.
"I have never felt that Janmashtami is a Hindu festival," said Husain, who has always been fascinated by govindas and is now with Badlapur's Amcha Shirgaon mandal.
For Sewri brothers Moin and Muzamil Hodekar, who have been govindas for the past six years, pyramids foster unity. "Everyone in our Bal Mitra Mandal celebrates all festivals," said Moin (26).
Jaslina David (23) is with the women's wing of Worli's Sankalp Pratishthan mandal. "There's nothing Hindu about it," says the receptionist.