In Mumbai, the festival of Janmashtami is celebrated on a huge scale. The occasion culminates with Dahi Handi (today), so you will see almost every by-lane in the city hosting human pyramids going as high as 10 tiers. Over the years, the festivities have only become bigger with political party leaders throwing their weight behind the revelry. Here’s a lowdown on the Dahi Handis that may make headlines.
Shreyas Signal, LBS Marg, Ghatkopar
The biggest Dahi Handi in this eastern suburb is hosted by Ram Kadam. When asked, the organisers refused to reveal the prize money. Various actors from the Marathi film industry are likely to attend the event here, some of whom will also be felicitated with the Shravan Bal Award. From Bollywood, the star attraction is, likely to be Shah Rukh Khan. More than 300 mandals have registered for this event so far.
Open House, Panch Pakdi, Thane
Jitendra Ahwad’s Sangharsh Dahi Handi, where about two lakh people converge every year, will have an overall prize money of R1 crore this time. In all, there will be 400 groups and three handis will need to be broken. One handi is reserved for women. About 215 members of Castellers de Vilafranca (members of a sporting association in Spain who build human pyramids) will also participate. Ten participants from the winning mandals will be flown to New York for the Maharashtra Festival to be held at Times Square on September 2. “It’s a game and we want our pyramids to be better than that of the Spaniards,” says Ahwad.
Jambori Maidan, Worli
Sachin Ahir’s Sankalp Dahi Handi is known for its Bollywood quotient. Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Emraan Hashmi, Ajay Devgn and Vivek Oberoi have attended these celebrations in the past. Here too, every participating mandal will be given prizes which collectively amount to Rs25 lakh. “We celebrate our Dahi Handi like a festival, not a competition,” says Ahir, adding, “We want everybody to go home happy.” About 400 madals have registered so far. Shah Rukh Khan is likely to be the star attraction here too.
Vartak Nagar, Thane
This one is organised by Pratap Sarnaik’s Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan. The organisers here will distribute prizes to every participant from the 500 mandals (and the prizes range from Rs5,000 to Rs50,000). At any given time, six groups will form a pyramid simultaneously. Says Sarnaik, “This year, we aren’t declaring the exact prize money, because that draws people who don’t practice properly and fall after reaching five or six tiers. This causes injuries, which we want to prevent.” Last year, at Vartak Nagar, the Jogeshwari group Jai Jawan created a world record by building a 43.79 ft human pyramid.
Bhogle Chowk, Vile Parle
This is Mumbai’s newest Dahi Handi and is organised by politico Krishna Hegde. It will now be an annual affair. Madhur Bhandarkar, Ronit Roy, Vaishali Samant and Shreyas Talpade are some of the celebrities expected to come here. Of the 250 mandals that will participate here, 50 will aim to create human pyramids of seven to eight tiers. “Our prize money totals Rs11 lakh. Every tier will also be rewarded. The response so far has been beyond expectations,” says Hegde.