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Debangana Sen Jul 04 2013

How is the Dahi-Handi festival celebrated in Mumbai?

Reema Bhalla Jul 04 2013
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Here is my experience of the famous Dahi-Handi festival held annually in Mumbai with great fervour:

Slowly. Very slowly. One tier at a time, the human pyramid rose upwards. As the crowd cheered, the young men struggled hard to keep their balance so that the successive tiers could climb up. Just when everyone thought they had made it, the whole block of human bricks came crashing down. Most gathered themselves up quickly and looked around to see if any of their group members were hurt. As the unsuccessful group stepped back, another one came forward to try. The attempts went on until one group finally reached the flower-decorated pot of curd tied high up and broke it. Held on the day following Janmastami, which falls on August 10, the birthday of Lord Krishna, the dahi-handi festival imitates Krishna’s famous antic of stealing butter from the pots which his mother left hanging from the ceiling to prevent him from getting the butter.

Hence the participants are known as Govindas. It was Shammi Kapoor’s onscreen rendition of Rafi’s Govinda ala re ala in the 1963 movie Bluffmaster that shot to limelight the frenzy surrounding Mumbai’s dahi-handi festival. Earlier, the people of the neighbourhood would put a token sum of money and keep it in the pot as a reward. Today, the kitty has increased manifold with politicians and sponsors joining the fray, promising hefty rewards for the highest pyramids built. The number of participating groups too has increased. Even rains fail to dampen the spirit of the enthusiastic groups as they move from one neighbourhood to another in search of the heaviest purse. Unfortunately, accidents too happen, sometimes even fatal. Women have already breached this once all-male bastion.

Tip: On this day, the whole of Mumbai seems to be out on the streets. So be prepared for traffic jams and diversions. Be prepared for rains too. Mumbai’s Dadar, Worli and Thane are the best places to watch the groups perform the breathtaking stunt.

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