The dahi handi celebration this year may see govindas divided into various age groups.
“The state sports department wants to categorise teams as sub-junior (12-16 years), junior (16-20 years) and open (above 20 years). The proposal has been sent to the state legal department for its nod,” said Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik, who is part of the 11-member legislative committee appointed to give recommendations to make dahi handi an adventure sport.
BJP leader Ashish Shelar, NCP leader Jitendra Ahwad and two representatives from the Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti (DUSS) are other members of the committee.
In December 2014, the state had declared dahi handi an adventure sport, to put safety measures in place. Sarnaik said the proposal includes restricting the height of the human pyramid to 20ft.
“The legal nod to the proposal is expected by mid-August. If the proposal is cleared, the sport could be played throughout the year, in compliance with the rules and regulations,” said Sarnaik.
With the dahi handi to be celebrated on September 5 this year, the mandals are in
a fix. “There is no clarity over whether the rules would apply to the celebration this year. A couple of weeks are just not enough to prepare,” said Geeta Zagade, general secretary of DUSS, an umbrella body of the 1,200-odd govinda mandals in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, and a member of the committee.
Arun Patil, who heads Mazagaon’s Dakshin Vibhag Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, said, “Since the festival is celebrated on a very large scale, it is impossible to verify the age of the participants in any team. This proposal will hit the festival, which was earlier marred by a court order banning children below 18 years.”