The dahi handi festival is just around the corner and preparations are on full swing across the country. While Govindas of the past trade secrets on how to form the perfect pyramid and claim the highest prize, the thoughts of some may not be the same each year the festival approaches.
With the stakes being raised even higher with each passing year, willing Govindas are prepared to defy the law of gravity, but some from the past have barely managed to limp back to a normal life after dreams of creating new records came crashing down to a painful reality.
MiD DAY brings you four former Govindas who have been affected in more ways than one, as a result of accidents or injuries sustained during the festival revelry over the years.
6 painful years have taken a toll
Krishna Palav (32) sustained a severe spinal injury in 2006 when the pyramid, for which he was one of the stalwarts at the base, came crashing down. A resident of Lalbaug, Palav was 26 years old at the time and the accident reduced him to a near vegetative state and left him bedridden for six months. He still has pain, besides other problems his injury has brought along.
Palav said, “I was on the base level and my troupe failed to form a seven-layered pyramid. The entire troupe fell while dismounting and all the weight crushed me. I was rushed to KEM hospital for treatment, where I learnt about the extent of my injury. I lost my job in the months that followed and have been at home ever since. I have been trying to do some little business, which can feed my family.”
All hopes dashed
Nagesh Bhoir (26) has been bedridden for the past four years after sustaining a severe spinal injury from a fall from the sixth layer of a pyramid. Nagesh has undergone five operations in the past four years and his condition continues to leech off the family’s meagre income. “I was on the top and I did break the handi that day, but unfortunately the moment I grabbed onto the handi, the rope came loose and I fell onto the road,” Bhoir said.
The only brother of four sisters, Bhoir is dependent on his father and siblings. His sister Monika Bhoir said, “We only have one brother from whom we had many expectations as one of my elder sisters is handicapped and two others are married. Now only my father is supporting the family financially.”
Nagesh’s father said that the battle is far from over, but several obstacles pave the way. “We received help from the local corporator, but that did not last long. Even today we are spending thousands of rupees, but there has been no positive outcome. We are being advised by doctors to begin physiotherapy, but are not in a position to spend so much,” he said.
Things still not back to normal
Manoj Nande (44), a resident of Byculla suffered a serious back injury in 2007, and is unable to walk properly even today. Nande, a legend of sorts, was known for his ability to support the weight of several team members at a time. He has been with his mandal for over 10 years and was a name to be reckoned with.
“While I was standing at the base and my mandal was trying for an eight-layered pyramid, they all fell on me. I was in hospital after that and had to stay in bed for around four months because of my back injury. I did start walking later, but not properly. My abilities are hampered and I cannot travel in a crowded train. I do work, but luckily my company gives its employees a safe ride back home,” Nande said.
Life in suspended animation
Lalbaug resident, Raju Gawde (27), was a part of the third layer of a pyramid last year and the team was attempting to form a seventh layer, when things went drastically wrong. The pyramid came crashing down and Gawde was injured when a teammate plunged feet-first onto his neck.
“Doctors had advised four-months bed rest and I stayed at home for all that time. The worst shock was that my marriage was postponed as my engagement was planned for the day after dahi handi. My wedding had been scheduled in November, but everything was postponed,” Gawde said. When asked about whether he would participate in dahi handi this year, he said, “I would love to, but my family has made me promise not to.”