Dahi handi mandals to raise the stakes this year

It’s that time of the year again, when govindas reach for the skies — and the pots of money on offer. With just 10 days to go for dahi handi, organisers are busy reaching into their coffers for more prize money to lure troupes from across the city.

While most of the organisers are waiting for the opportune moment to reveal the eye-popping figures on offer this year, the three top dahi handi organisers have made it clear that the figures are only likely to be more attractive this year.

Jitendra Awhad, president of Sangharsh, who hosted about 170 govinda troupes last year, said, “The prize amount would touch an all time high this year, but we will not reveal the amount until the other mandals announce theirs.”

An insider, however, said, “Sangharsh Pratishthan this year will be offering cash prize of over Rs 25 lakh to the troupe that forms 10 layers. Rs 11 lakh and 1 lakh will be given to troupes forming nine and eight layers respectively on the day of the festival,” a source inside Sangharsh revealed.
Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan in Thane is also popular for doling out fat cash prizes to participants. Last year, 111 govinda troupes participated, and a total of Rs 55 lakh was doled out as cash prize.

Purvesh Sarnaik, secretary of Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan, said, “We would be awarding Rs 25 lakh, Rs 11 lakh and Rs 50,000 for 10-layer, nine layer and eight layer pyramids respectively.”

Ram Kadam, an MNS MLA from Ghatkopar, is also known for his largesse during Dahi Handi celebrations.

He said, “Our mandal is the biggest dahi handi organiser in the city — the money involved is huge, but the amount will be declared only two days before the festival.”

“Last year the total amount doled out was Rs 55 lakh, and this year there are chances of it being raised,” a source close to the MLA said.

Dahi handis to watch out for
Sangharsh Dahi Handi: This year the NGO would be roping in troupes from Spain, Chile and Morocco to form human pyramids. Last year, a Spanish troupe ‘Castellers de Vilafranca’ wowed the crowds. A film shot in 2010 on the lives of two Jogeshwari boys and their dahi handi dreams will also be released by Sangharsh this year. The 90-minute documentary film was shot by Ram Devyani and revolves around the craft of building human pyramids, popular in India and Spain.

Sanskruti Yuva Pratishthan: For stage construction, ace art director Raju Sawla will be replacing Nitin Desai this year. The presence of celebrities will add to the glam quotient of the event. The stars will be promoting the cause of the girl child, and campaign against female foeticide.

Ram Kadam’s Dahi Handi: “The theme of our event is the ongoing corruption at the toll nakas in the state — a few documentaries directed by Madhur Bhandarkar also will be screened at the event. The basic aim is to create awareness among people that they are being looted by the government in the name of toll taxes,” said Ram Kadam.  

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