Mumbai: Cups of cash and a dash of politics in the Dahi Handi

Sep 04, 2018, 13:50 IST | Team mid day

Politicos go all out to make their celebrations the grandest, while CM goes from event to event, almost as if campaigning ahead of 2019 polls; a death shrouds Dharavi programme

Mumbai: Cups of cash and a dash of politics in the Dahi Handi
Youths topple over after a pyramid at a celebration in Dadar falls. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Politicians have used many festivals to advertise themselves, and this Dahi Handi was no different. It was almost as if election fever was in the air as much as festive fervour, as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, in a first of sorts, paid a visit several Dahi Handi events to make his presence felt before the upcoming polls.

Thane, on the other hand, witnessed Swami Pratishthan and Bharatiya Mathadi Kamgar Sangh president Shivaji Patil announcing huge cash prizes for Govinda troupes. Also, 120 people suffered minor injuries and one youth died during the celebrations.

Shekhar Suman hugs CM Devendra Fadnavis at MLA Ram Kadam's Dahi Handi celebration in Ghatkopar on Monday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Shekhar Suman hugs CM Devendra Fadnavis at MLA Ram Kadam's Dahi Handi celebration in Ghatkopar on Monday. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

A political affair
Shiv Sena saw an opportunity to upstage rival NCP with the famous handi competitions conducted by Sankalp Pratishthan, organised by former NCP MLA Sachin Ahir, stopped for more than two years. Ahir's erstwhile preferred location of Jambori Maidan at Worli was taken over by Sena's MLA Sunil Shinde, who organised a huge celebration there. Sena MLA Prakash Surve's Dahi Handi, too, pulled in a lot of crowd and attracted several Govinda troupes.

At Ram Kadam's event, Fadnavis broke the handi, several Govinda pathaks formed human pyramids, and many Bollywood celebrities were in attendance.

A visually challenged member of Nayan Foundation breaks the handi at Sena MLA Sunil Shinde's event. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
A visually challenged member of Nayan Foundation breaks the handi at Sena MLA Sunil Shinde's event. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Hundreds of casualties
Of the 120 people who suffered minor injuries, 95 were treated in the OPD and discharged, while 25 are undergoing treatment. "More than 150 doctors were deployed to handle any emergency. Also, we kept the X-ray department open for the whole day, as most suffered orthopaedic injuries," said Dr Avinash Supe, dean of KEM Hospital.

There was, however, one death - Kush Khandare, 20, suffered an epileptic fit while standing at the first level of a pyramid. The Dharavi resident was rushed to Sion hospital, where he was declared dead. Dean Dr Jayashree Mondkar said he was brought around 3.50 pm, and initial investigation shows he died because of the fit with no internal injury. The Dharavi police have filed an accidental death report in the matter.

While the police maintained vigil to ensure HC's order - of not allowing anyone aged below 14 to participate - was followed, of the nine injured in Thane, five are children, suspected to be younger than 14.

Thane's extravaganza
BJP's Swami Pratishthan, which organised its first Dahi Handi in Thane, where Fadnavis made an appearance, had a lofty prize money of R25 lakh for a 10-tier pyramid. The popular Jai Jawan Jogeshwari group, however, could not go beyond nine tiers, winning R11 lakh and a trophy. The group, which had entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2014, has gained popularity in all mandals in Thane.

Speaking at Swami Pratishthan Mandal's event in Hiranandani Meadows, Fadnavis said, "We will break the handi of corruption, atrocities and malpractices." Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's handi at Naupada had a prize of Rs 21 lakh for a 10-tier pyramid. MNS leader Avinash Jadhav said, "We awarded the Shiv Sai Govinda Pathak Rs 2 lakh for making a pyramid of eight-and-a-half tiers. We followed every safety norm and took care of all Govindas."

Satellite town's celebrations
In Navi Mumbai, Vijay Chougule's Dahi Handi was the biggest, but the groups could go up to only eight tiers. Chougule will be giving the prize amount to Kerala's relief fund. And while Shirvane village's Dahi Handi spread the message of cleanliness, Ghansoli Sanskar Mitra Mandal created awareness on plastic ban.

Also Read: Here's how Mumbai celebrated Dahi Handi

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