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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Dahi handi in Mumbai: Govindas step out, Rs25 lakh highest cash prize on offer

Around 40 mandals in Thane have decided to not set up any pandals.

mumbai Updated: Aug 15, 2017 11:17 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
A govinda group prays before starting the event at Dadar.
A govinda group prays before starting the event at Dadar.(Kunal Patil/HT)

The dahi handi celebrations have begun in Mumbai, with govinda groups stepping out in style. The highest cash prize on offer so far is Rs25 lakh at Ghatkopar.

Except Ram Kadam, BJP MLA from Ghatkopar (West), famous for his grand celebrations, who will be hosting a celebration worth Rs25 lakh, other big revelries have either been cancelled or converted into alternate low key plans.

“This year we will host pro-Govinda, wherein there will be no competition between the groups on the basis of height, they will be judged on their timings. The first prize winner will receive Rs1 lakh, and the height will vary depending on the capacity of the mandals,” said Puvesh Sarnaik, secretary, Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan.

However, Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti, the umbrella body of mandals, believes that demonetisation and implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) has dampened the spirit of the festival as the organisers are worried that the Income Tax department is keeping a tab on them.

“The organisers are not willing to take the risk to declare big prize money and the groups couldn’t approach corporate companies for sponsorship at the last moment, as a result of which most of them are making all the expenses from their pocket,” said Kamlesh Bhoir, secretary.

Around 40 mandals in Thane have decided to not set up any pandals.

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has declared the highest price money at Rs11 lakh to the Govinda troupes that forms nine tiers in Thane. The prize money till 2015 used to be Rs21 lakh

Jitendra Awhad, NCP MLA from Kalwa-Mumbra constituency, who has invited foreigners to participate in the festivity, will not host any celebration. On the other hand, Shiv Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik has decided to do away with the competition and celebrate the festival as a sport, in line with the state government’s assertion of classifying the festival as an adventure sport.

A police officer said, “The number of public dahi handi events this year has dropped to 306 from 345 last year across Thane, Kalyan and Dombivli. The private celebrations too have fewer registrations as this year the number is 1,267 against last year’s 1,322.”

Sankalp Pratishthan from Thane plans to go the cultural way. They will organise a pandal but will refrain from keeping prize money and will be felicitating every participant. The organisers believe that they didn’t have enough time after the HC order to put up a grand show.

First Published: Aug 15, 2017 11:15 IST

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