Two dead amid ‘dahi-handi’ celebrations in Maharashtra

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Mumbai, Sep 3 (IANS) At least two persons were killed, one is reported missing and more than 85 were injured in various incidents as Maharashtra witnessed ‘dahi-handi’ celebrations in Mumbai and others parts of the state on Monday.

One youth died in ‘dahi-handi’ related incident in Sion, central Mumbai, while another drowned in Bhayander in Thane. One youth is missing in the Arabian Sea at Versova Beach in Andheri, while four were rescued.

Besides, at least 87 youngsters fell and were injured at various venues while forming human pyramids, the BMC Disaster Control said.

Earlier, Lord Krishna’s birthday was heralded amid prayers, chanting of hymns, ringing bells and aartis at the two main venues in Mumbai, the ISKCON temples in Chowpatty and Juhu, at midnight of Sunday-Monday, with a welcome drizzle in many parts of Mumbai.

“Thousands of devotees prayed here. The temple is decorated with a Rajasthani theme and has 1,008 items offered to Lord Krishna as ‘bhog’ today, prepared by over 500 volunteers,” said ISKCON Radha Chowpatty head, Radhanath Swami.

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‘Dahi-handi’ festivities started in a big way with big and small ‘Govinda’ groups of men and women, attired in colourful clothes, fanned out all over the city to try their ‘pot luck’, with film stars like Raveena Tandon, Suniel Shetty, Varun Kapoor, and many more joining the celebrations, and Maharashtrian ‘laavni’ dance performers regaling the crowds.

Thousands of ‘Govindas’ also trooped out in other cities like Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur and others to form human pyramids and break the ‘dahi-handi’, an earthen pot having a deliious mixture of curd and butter, commemorating the birth and symbolizing the spirit of Lord Krishna.

At many major venues in Borivali, Andheri, Dadar, Ghatkopar, Mulund and others, the govindas attempted to build up around five tiers to grab the ‘dahi-handi’ pot, and safety measures were evident. In some venues in Mumbai and Thane, the pyramids were as tall as nine tiers.

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Among several large groups having political backing, the emphasis this year was less on doling out huge prize monies, but more on deriving hefty political mileage, with eyes on the 2019 general elections.

“This is the first year it is being celebrated as a ‘sport’ event with the participation of around 1,000 registered organisations in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts. They must strictly adhere to all safety precautions,” Bala Padelkar, head of Dahi-Handi Coordination Committee, told IANS.

However, watchdog Lok Jagruti Samajik Sanstha President Swati Patil said in most venues, safety measures were blatantly flouted and children aged below 14 were being foisted on top of the human pyramids.

“During a practice session in Khar four days ago, 12-year old Chirag Patekar from Khar fell and is in a coma at a Bandra hospital. Who is responsible for his future now?” Patil asked. The Mumbai BJP has announced Rs 100,000 assistance to the boy’s family.

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She accused several groups and organisers in Dadar and Chembur of flouting the Bombay High Court directives by not providing safety belts and harnesses.

At a venue in Dadar, after forming the pyramids, the ‘govindas’ saluted the martyred soldiers, while in one group in Walkeshwar, south Mumbai, the topmost ‘govinda’ was clad in an Army-style suit in a tribute to Indian soldiers.

Some organisations and groups also announced donations of their full or part winnings to the victims of the recent Kerala floods.

–IANS

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