With Dahi Handi over and all the controversy that marked the run-up to the festival on the ebb, it is time to take stock of how the festival was marked in Mumbai this year, given all the brouhaha about children not being allowed to break the handi, the political claptrap that accompanied statements and finally, the festival itself. While some did flout the rule and make children under-12 break the handi, one needs to acknowledge that a great many mandals did pay heed, lowered tiers and put slightly older children on top to break the handi.
While the decision may not have been hugely popular, it was a step forward in bringing about some element of safety into the festival. The festival was admittedly more low key than it has been before, but one must reiterate that mandals need to see logic in the stress on safety. Even now, with so much awareness, we still find that there is no absolute premium on safety. Mandals must be equipped with safety gear for participating govindas.
The govindas on bikes need to keep in mind their own safety and that of others on the road. We see three and four young men on a bike, careening madly on the roads, with the rider challenged to handle the added weight on the bike, thanks to the boys riding pillion. None of them wear helmets, and zip past at tremendous speed. These govindas must realise the grave danger they are putting others on the road in, with this kind of rough riding. Enjoy a festival by all means, but don’t throw caution to the wind.
Every festival in the city must be marked with respect for others and a premium on life and limb. Foolhardiness cannot be passed off as revelry.
Mandals must ensure that Govindas do adhere to traffic rules and rough house riding must be discouraged . The police too must be given a free hand to deal with offenders at any festival, there should be no communal colour given to law enforcement initiatives at festivals of any religion. After all, this is not about religion but the safety of all concerned.