If you were left wondering why the usual pandemonium associated with Janmashtami celebrations was missing in the city yesterday, it was due to the decision taken by several dahi handi troupes to skip the city for the reportedly safer alternative of Thane. Even the lure of big cash prizes couldn’t sway the pathaks who put their safety on top of the list, refusing to form pyramids where safety was not up to the mark. “We preferred going to Thane where organizers are proficient in organising dahi handis. In Mumbai, we are not allowed to perform, as preference is given to celebrities. We put in so much practice prior to the big day, and not getting the opportunity to show our skills is heartbreaking,” said a govinda from Jogeshwari./p>
The govindas’ apprehensions were clearly evident as several dahi mandal organisers in the city put safety on the back-burner. MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar’s dahi handi in Kalachowkie was a case in point. Although Nandgaonkar offered a cash prize of Rs 27 lakh for the mandal that formed a 10-tier pyramid, several troupes passed over the opportunity after it was announced that teams attempting to form seven tiers or more would not be provided safety harnesses. “A mandal that forms eight, nine or 10 levels needs safety apparatus, not mandals that form five tiers. The risk associated in our case is much higher,” said a govinda who skipped Nandgaonkar’s dahi handi, and proceeded towards Navi Mumbai and Thane.
Fails to impress
Organisers of the city’s costliest dahi handi prize failed to live up to the expectations of the govindas, with nearly 80 troupes visiting the spot and then returning. Shiv Sena party worker Ajay Badguzar managed to catch the attention of the troupes by promising to offer a hefty cash prize, but due to the mismanagement and chaos at the BKC grounds, several troupes were left seething.