This dahi handi, govinda groups who are not competing with each other cannot resist the challenge of competing with themselves.
The govindas of Worli’s Bharat Mandal are tired of building seven-tier pyramids the regular way.
So this year, they are working out twice as hard to attempt the almost- impossible — climbing up without the help of human seedhis (ladders).
Govindas who form the upper tiers of a pyramid usually reach the rising heights by riding on the shoulders of parallel, single-column pyramids —the seedhis — on the sides of the central one.
“Not using these side-supports will mean that each boy must clamber up with his own strength, finding footholds on the thighs and arms of those forming the lower tiers,” said Daya Pawar, president of the five-year-old mandal.
“We are doing this to challenge ourselves with a new goal.”
For the 200 govindas in the group, practice sessions involve gruelling fitness training, followed by hours of team-effort to erect the pyramid.
The task is toughest for the nine-year-old boy who must scale six tiers on his own before forming the topmost.
“So far we have managed to build six-tiers with this
technique, and have a few more days to achieve our goal,” said Pawar.
Jogeshwari’s Jai Jawan Govinda Sankalp, meanwhile, has decided to try, after a gap of one year, the towering nine-tier pyramid that won them Rs 11 lakh in 2008.
“We try to increase the height of our towers every year, but last year the swine flu scare didn’t give us a chance to do nine tiers,” said President Sandeep Dhavale.
“This year we are more organised and hope to make nine-tiers repeatedly on Thursday.”
Dhavale and his team have been inspired to compete with themselves ever since they visited Spain four years ago to see the human pyramids of the castellers (Spanish counterparts of govindas).
“They are very fit and even manage ten tiers. Maybe some day, we will manage that,” said Dhavale.
Bala Nandgaonkar, a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA who runs at least three govinda mandals in south Mumbai, is also planning to get his pyramids built with a difference.
“We will try to make nine-tier pyramids, and instead of young boys at the top two tiers, we plan to have girls instead,” said Nandgaonkar.
“They are lighter in weight and just as capable as the boys.”