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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Govindas aim to climb high, mandals go low-key in maximum city

Mumbai and Thane saw muted Dahi Handi celebrations and cancelled events, due to floods in Maharashtra and demise of former finance minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

mumbai Updated: Aug 25, 2019 02:50 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
A devotee breaks a dahi-handi (curd-pot) suspended in the air atop a human pyramid during celebrations for the Janmashtami festival, which marks the birth of Hindu God Lord Krishna, at Dadar in Mumbai
A devotee breaks a dahi-handi (curd-pot) suspended in the air atop a human pyramid during celebrations for the Janmashtami festival, which marks the birth of Hindu God Lord Krishna, at Dadar in Mumbai(Kunal Patil/Hindustan Times)
         

Govindas were disappointed by this year’s Dahi Handi celebrations on Saturday, as several places in the city saw muted celebrations or cancelled the events altogether, owing to the floods in the state and the demise of former finance minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley. While some headed to Thane expecting grand celebrations and attractive prizes, organisers here had too decided to tone down the celebrations.

Organisers in Mumbai and Thane had decided to donate the proceeds from the festival to flood-affected people in Sangli and Kolhapur districts. Around 12pm, as news broke of Arun Jaitley’s death, several mandals cancelled the Dahi Handi festivities. Govindas who had reached the venues were allowed to form tiers, with some forming a nine-tier formation. However, they were informed that they would not get any prizes. The DJs were also not permitted to play music.

Three big Govinda mandals – the Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan organised by Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) Pratap Sarnaik, the Swami Pratishthan organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) mandal wrapped up the festivities by 4.30pm, unlike previous years, where the pyramid competitions between pathaks go on till 10pm.

Purvesh Sarnaik, secretary of Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan, said, “We stopped the music after learning about the sad demise of former minister Jaitley. However, many govinda pathaks had come from far away and we did not want to dampen their spirits, as they had already reached the venue. So we allowed them to form the pyramids, but it was a low-key affair.”

Abhijeet Panse, MNS leader said, “We have avoided many expenses this year to save money and donate it to the flood-affected residents of Kolhapur. The Dahi Handi celebrations were also stopped earlier than the other years.”

In the satellite city too, organisers had cancelled several events. According to the Navi Mumbai police, this year the city witnessed merely 62 dahi handi events, as opposed to 99 organised last year.

Earlier this week, BJP MLAs Ram Kadam and Kalidas Kolambkar had cancelled their events in Ghatkopar and Wadala respectively and donated funds to flood-hit districts. On Friday, two other bigger Dahi Handi organisers, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Jeetendra Awhad and Shiv Sena MLA Sachin Ahir also cancelled the festivities.

“There is no other big handi in Mumbai this year, just two or three of them in Thane. We will be going to smaller dahi handi mandals in the city this year,” Arun Patil, executive president, Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti (DHSS), the umbrella body of Govinda pathaks, said on Saturday. According to Patil, more than 50% of the organisers have not put up a handi this year. A govinda pathak from Jogeshwari, Jai Jawan, participated in the pyramid formation in Thane and formed a nine-tier pyramid at the Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan and MNS Dahi Handi events.

Sandeep Davle, the pathak’s coach said that the govindas support the decision to maintain low-key Dahi Handi celebrations as a mark of solidarity for the flood victims. “All the pathaks in Thane and Mumbai have done their bit for the flood-affected people. We also had visited Sangli and provided relief material to the locals there. In the coming days, we will clean a village in the district which was affected by floods,” he said.

In Thane, the Dahi Handi celebrations have always been grand, with organisers announcing the highest prizes and the longest tiers in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

First Published: Aug 25, 2019 00:45 IST