With the dahi handi festival fast approaching, a fear looms large in the background that this year will witness more injured Govindas than in the past because though teams have been formed, participants are not going through the rigours of much-needed practice.
Coaches guiding these Govindas fear that the drastically reduced practice sessions will prove to be the downfall of several participants this year.
Earlier, the number of Govindas turning up for regular practice sessions at Tadwadi mandal used to exceed 150, but that number has now reduced to between 60 and 70. Rigorous training and practice was the mantra that earlier participants followed and they could be seen toiling for several hours each day for a whole month to get their act together. This year however, teams practice for a few hours each day across a span of 15 days.
“Practice is something that must be done on a regular basis and should be started at least one month in advance. Earlier our troupe easily managed to form nine layers. Today, everyone thinks that they can climb the pyramid without practicing. We are not able to form even seven layers properly now,” said Raja Shivtarkar, a kabaddi coach and dahi handi trainer from Byculla.
He added that when training sessions are reduced, the chances and numbers of participants getting injured rises, which mandals are worried about.
“We only get two Sundays to practice for three or four hours since everyone is free. But this is not enough,” Raja said.
Pramod Patil, a member of Mazgaon Tadwadi mandal said that several changes have occurred over a span of few years.
“Earlier, though there was no major prize money involved, there were more participants. Now, though the stakes are much higher, we are witnessing reduced participation. Earlier, around 200 people could be seen at the practice ground, but today barely 70 to 80 people turn up.”
Patil added that in such a situation, the number of participants getting injured is bound to increase.
“The only issue bothering us as trainers is that without adequate practice, chances of injuries would increase,” Patil said.
Going by numbers
The number of injured reported last year was 380, out of which 45 sustained critical injuries. In 2010, two persons died and 170 were injured
This year around 600 Govinda mandals have been set up, while last year there were around 800