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Mumbai’s dahi handi festival sees fewer Govindas this year

According to the BMC’s disaster management cell, 153 suffered injuries during the dahi handi festivities, while one from Dharavi died, compared to two deaths and 150 injuries last year.

mumbai Updated: Sep 04, 2018 00:43 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
dahi handi,govindas,janmashtami
Govindas perform in Dadar on Monday.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

With 50% fewer dahi handi mandals and resultant events, the Krishna Janmashtami celebrations in Mumbai on Monday remained low-key, most being held in housing societies.

“This year, 950 dahi handi mandals, including 20 women groups, got registered with us. Last year, the number was more than 3,000,” said Bala Padelkar, chairman of the Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti.

According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s disaster management cell, 153 suffered injuries during the dahi handi festivities, while one from Dharavi died, compared to two deaths and 150 injuries last year.

On August 7 last year, the Bombay high court (HC), while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on safety of Govindas, refused to put restrictions on the height of human pyramids, but reduced the age of the participants to 14.

Earlier, those aged less than 18 were not allowed to participate and the height of the pyramid was restricted to 20ft.

The petitioner in the PIL, while confirming that participation was less enthusiastic, filed police complaints alleging mandals had violated rules laid out by the HC.

“Many mandals concentrated on celebrations within their society, which helped decongest city’s streets. The HC guidelines made citizens aware of the dangers of the festival. However, all bigger mandals had participants between the age of 10 and 12. They did not have helmets and we found that 57 Govindas were insured,” said Swati Patil, secretary, NGO Utkarsh Mahila Samajik Sansthaa.

Most events were organised by political parties, with
prizes ranging from ₹2lakh-₹4lakh in Mumbai to ₹50 lakh in Thane.

“Mandals didn’t reveal the prize money. They didn’t flout HC guidelines,” said Padelkar.

First Published: Sep 04, 2018 00:43 IST