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Supreme Court curbs fail to dampen 'dahi handi' spirit in Mumbai

PTI
Published Aug 25, 2016, 8:13 pm IST
Updated Aug 25, 2016, 8:15 pm IST
In Thane, a ‘Dahi Handi’ was allegedly strung up at 49 feet, more than double the height allowed by the SC.
Govindas taking part in Dahi Handi celebrations by forming a pyramid on the occasion of Janamashtami in Mumbai. (Photo: PTI)
 Govindas taking part in Dahi Handi celebrations by forming a pyramid on the occasion of Janamashtami in Mumbai. (Photo: PTI)

Mumbai: Thousands of youth clad in colourful robes joined the 'Dahi Handi' celebrations across Maharashtra to mark Krishna Janmashtami on Thursday, with some of the 'mandals' allegedly flouting the 20-feet ceiling for human pyramids mandated by the Supreme Court.

A sporting tradition that blends devotion with fun, frolic and adventure, 'dahi handi' recaptures the fondness of Krishna as a child for butter with scores of youth joining shoulder-to-shoulder to build a human pyramid, through which the aspiring winner scales to hit the curd-filled earthen pot strung over head.

 

The apex court had yesterday made it clear that no human pyramid could cross 20 feet in height, concerned over casualties and injuries suffered by 'Govindas', as participants are known, in previous years.

Cases had been registered against 16 Govinda mandals in Thane, adjoining Mumbai for allegedly flouting court guidelines, a senior police official said.

A report said a "Dahi Handi" was allegedly strung up at 49 feet, more than double the height allowed by the Supreme Court, whose organiser was said to be associated with Raj Thackeray-led MNS. MNS along with Shiv Sena has expressed reservations over the court order.

Barring minor injuries to 15 participants, no untoward incident had been reported in Mumbai till evening, where no violation of the apex court norm had been reported, police said.

At Dadar in Mumbai, some Dahi Handi mandal members lay on the ground and created a 'sleeping pyramid' exceeding the 20-feet norm. While another mandal used a ladder to break the pot and also displayed a black flag, apparently to protest against the SC ruling on the festival.

With over 3,300 mandals (organising units) arranging 'dahi handi' events across Mumbai and adjoining areas, police video-recorded the competitions to ascertain if there had been violation of the Supreme Court order.

Police had already issued notices to organisers informing them of the court order and that they would record every human pyramid. Police said they would go through the video footages and, if any violation of norms is found, action will be taken against the organisers.

The court had on August 17 refused to relax conditions put earlier by the Bombay High Court like barring youth below 18 years of age from participating in Dahi Handi festival and capping the height of the human pyramid at 20 feet.

The SC bench rejected the contention that the festival had the colour of popular sport and there should be no cap on the height of the pyramid since the court has already barred youth below 18 years of age from taking part in it.

A fresh plea was filed in the apex court by Jai Jawan Krida Mandal Govinda Pathak in a last ditch attempt to get over the restriction, which was also turned down by the apex court.

Voicing reservation over the court directions on Dahi Handi celebrations, the Shiv Sena said the government should have come out with an ordinance reversing the order.

Sena said the police, instead of going about their duty of catching criminals, will now have to roam around places to ensure the implementation of the SC's guidelines and keep a watch on the height of human pyramids and age of 'govindas'.

The SC order had also stirred sharp reaction from dahi handi organisers, who contended that the restrictions would hamper the grandeur of the celebrations.

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