Many dahi handi organisers won’t be organising the event due to rising farmer suicides and floods witnessed in several areas of the state.
The Janmashtami festival is likely to lose its sheen this year due to the new safety guidelines issued by the Maharashtra government. Moreover, many dahi handi organisers won’t be organising the event due to rising farmer suicides and floods witnessed in several areas of the state. The new norms issued by the government too has played spoilsport for organisers as they will have to seek permission from the police, fire, transport and traffic department which is a tedious task. Even business houses have refused to fund dahi handi celebrations due to declining profit margins. Many organisers have donated the money to be spent on dahi handi celebrations to farmers affected by drought. Even insurance companies have refused to provide cover for the victims who sustain injuries while climbing the pyramid.
The government had drafted the new norms after several persons were injured during last year’s dahi handi celebrations. It has also accorded the adventure sports status to dahi handi. As per the new guidelines, child below 12 years of age won’t be allowed to participate to form human pyramids during Dahi Handi. The participants will have to submit a No-Objection Certificate (NoC) signed by their parents or guardians. The organisers will have to provide safety nets, helmets, safety harness, mats and other security requirements to participants for preventing injuries.
“The restrictions put by the government like usage of roads, loudspeakers, construction of mandaps, etc. are so bad (that) it will be impossible for us to do anything. Also we will have to run from pillar to post for obtaining permission for organising the event,” said a dahi handi organiser on the condition of anonymity from Borivali.
“Often young children are asked to form pyramids during dahi handi festival. These children are not trained adequately and they also risk their lives while climbing the human pyramid. Most of the mandals violate the safety norms prescribed by the Bombay High Court,” said an activist.
The Maharashtra Government on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court to get a clarification regarding the height of human pyramids for the dahi handi celebrations in the state. The apex court is likely to hear the petition next week.
Last week, the Bombay High Court pulled up the Maharashtra Government for its failure to obtain clarification from the apex court in this regard.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) last month, the High Court had directed the Maharashtra Government to approach the apex court on its order on the height of human pyramids.
The cultural activity, celebrated on Gokulashtmi (Lord Krishna’s birthday), involves forming a human pyramid to reach an earthen pot, filled with buttermilk, at a considerable height. Injuries are common as the human pyramid often collapses.