Dahi Handi organisers in Mumbai cancel celebrations due to COVID-19

The Asian Age.  | Vrushali Purandare

Metros, Mumbai

Organisers are deterred by the continuing spread of the pandemic

Mumbai's Dahi Handi celebrations attract hundreds of participants each year. (File Photo)

Mumbai: Dahi Handi festival organisers in Mumbai have begun cancelling celebrations due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic in Mumbai.

About 2,500 Dahi Handi events are held in and around Mumbai every year on the day after Krishna Janmashtami, which falls on 11 August this year. In these events, Govindas, as the participants are known, re-enact the myth of Lord Krishna stealing butter from a hanging pot, by making a human pyramid. It can be a dangerious sport; several people including kids get injured every year. Fractures are normal, even deaths occur.

Ram Kadam, head of a festival organising committee in Ghatkopal and a BJP leader, said celebrations in his locality have been cancelled. The Ghatkopar dahi handi pulls in huge crowds each year, including Bollywood celebrities.

“Taking into account the Covid-19 situation and the crowd that gathers, we have decided to cancel the Dahi Handi festival. However, we will celebrate Krishna Janmashtami in a simple way,” said Kadam.

Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, who heads the Sanskruti Yuva Prathishthan, which finds mention in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest nine-tier human formation, too called off the celebration.

Some of the most famous locations for the dahi handi festivities are Mumbai are Dadar, Worli, Prabhadevi, Mazgaon, Lalbaug, Borivali and Thane. In MMR, close to 2,000 Govindas (those who form the human pyramid to break the handi and steal the butter) compete for 4,000 to 5,000 handis.