This Gokulashtami, the stakes for breaking the handi are likely to come down considerably. While the prize money had reached as high as Rs 15 lakh for the highest pyramid in the past, govindas are likely to be handed over token cash amounts for participation this time.
The major dahi handis events across Mumbai and Thane are organised by politicians, who have in the past doled out cash prizes upto Rs 1 crore. However, this time, some of the major organisers, including Mumbai NCP chief Sachin Ahir, Congress legislator Krishna Hegde and NCP’s Jitendra Awhad, have pulled out of the festival, expressing disappointment at the recent rules regarding the celebrations.
The ones that will organise the events say they will use the opportunity to ‘de-commercialise’ the festival. Sena legislator from Thane, Pratap Sarnaik, whose organisation Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan at Thane has been hosting high-profile contest for six years, said he has decided not to announce stakes for the highest or best pyramid formation, but will only hand out token amounts for participation. “I support the new rules regarding the safety of Govindas that do now allow the pyramid height to rise above 20 feet [five-tiers]. With stakes rising every year, the spirit of the festival was lost,” he said.
BJP legislator Ram Kadam, who hosts a mega affair at Ghatkopar under his banner Ram Kadam Mitra Mandal, said the group was yet to decide on the stakes and cash prizes. “We may announce it a day before the festival,” he said.
Mandals, however, said that with the festival just two days away [on September 6], there is little chance anybody will announce such a thing.
“Usually, the stakes are announced a week in advance. That is the time when enthusiasm among the team is highest,” said Arun Patil, coach of the prominent Tadwadi mandal of Mazgaon.