‘Dahi Handi’ no longer seems to be a celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna and enacting of his childhood antics of stealing pots (handis) filled with dahi. In Thane especially, it has turned out to be a gala political event.
Political parties invite and share space with celebrities from the Hindi film fraternity and also Marathi film, TV and stage artistes. It is a show of strength to attract potential voters via celebrities and to lure ‘Govindas’ by announcing big ‘cash’ prizes.
Competition is not limited to verbal duels, big cash prizes and big celebrities. A legal tussle is on in the High Court between the Shiv Sena, led by local corporator Ashutosh Yeole and rebel MP Anand Paranjpe, who was elected on a Sena ticket but is now de-facto supporter of the NCP. The two groups are fighting over who should be allowed to hold the ‘Dahi Handi’ at a public ground in Dombivli.
The lake city’s the biggest cash prize announced by NCP leader Jitendra Awhad for ‘Govinda’ squad is Rs.30 lakh.
A couple of years ago, Awhad had invited Spanish competitors for the ‘Dahi Handi’ festival, so that they could witness the human pyramid formation by our own ‘Govindas.’ Later, ten ‘Govindas’ from the city visited Spain to understand the formation of a ‘Human Tower’ during Spanish festivals. This year too, the organisation has invited the Spanish troupes to see the innovations implemented by ‘Govindas’ to form human pyramids in Thane.
Organising group: Sangharsh
Organiser: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA, Jitendra Awhad Whatever Awhad does, it has to be loud and ostentatious. His ‘Dahi Handi’ celebration is no exception. His event boasts of three pots covered with layers worth 150 gm of gold. The troupe of ‘Govindas’ who can make a tier of 10 and break the ‘Dahi Handi’ will win the huge prize of Rs.30 lakh in cash. He is also in the news for inviting and denying the visit of Jism-2 artiste, Sunny Leonne.
Awhad said, “This year’s special is the documentary of Spanish Squad and Indian Squads being telecast on the History channel in 21 languages. I am not calling any celebrity for the festival. The attraction this year is again a battle between Indian and Spanish squads.”
Organising group: Sanskruti Yuva Pratishan
Organiser: Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik Sarnaik, a former NCP leader, had fallen out with his benefactor Awhad. So he leaves no stone unturned to ensure that all those who matter flock to his event.
“I do not want to lure the squads by announcing huge cash prizes and later not giving them away. Prize money is not the theme this year. It is the enjoyment of residents that is valuable,” explained Sarnaik, although the prize money announced by him is Rs. 25 lakh for a 10-tier pyramid.
Though the reckless youth of Mumbai’s Govinda’ mandals are known to form eight-storied pyramids, seven and fewer layers are more common. In 2008, Sarnaik’s event became popular when a group formed a nine-tier pyramid, which happens to be an Indian record.
Organising group: Shiv Sena
Organiser: Sena MLA Eknath Shinde
The Dahi Handi is made of ‘gold’ and is called as ‘Maanachi Handi’ as it was started by the Thane’s popular leader, late Anand Dighe. The prize money is not the attraction but the salute to this ‘Dahi Handi’ by the ‘Govinda’ troupe is considered very auspicious.
Shinde stated, “We always value the culture and tradition of the festival.” This is the oldest ‘Dahi Handi’ of Thane, popularly known as the Anand Dighe Dahi Handi of Tembhi Naka, popularised by the late Dighe.
Organising group: Maha-Dahi Handi
Organiser: Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Vichare The Maha-Dahi Handi Utsav of the year 2012 Vichare said, “I am organising this ‘Dahi Handi’ not for entertainment. It is a religious feeling. We have no attraction of prize money but Marathi film personalities do visit ‘Talao Paali Maha-Dahi Handi Utsav as it is simple and no political game.”
Organiser: Prakash Surve and other NCP leaders
Prizes: Total Rs.21 lakh. Rs.1 lakh for nine-tier pyramid, Rs.50,000 for eight-tiers, Rs.7,000 for seven-tiers and Rs.5,000 for six-tier pyramid.
Guests: Sunil Pal, Chunkey Pandey, Amruta Khanvilakar, Neha Pendse. Comedy show by Comedy Express. DJ and rain dance.
Special Guests: Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Home Minister R.R. Patil, Guardian Minister Jayant Patil, MP Sanjay Patil, Sameer Bhujbal
Features: 50 per cent of the prize amount will be given to women. The organisation will fund education expenses of the bal Govinda who will break Dahi handi
Organisers: Shree Sankalp Pratisthan of Sachin and Sangeeta Ahir
Place: Jamboree Maidan, Worli
Prizes: Rs.5 lakh for nine tier pyramid.
Special guests: Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Imran Hashmi. Special inaugural dance by Isha Deol
Features: Felicitation of Mantralaya employees who saved the national flag during the major fire at Mantralaya on June 21. Special prize for Govinda association that exhibits themes of female foeticide and the ban on Gutkha
Security: Jamboree Maidan is under CCTV camera surveillance
Organiser: Sanjay Nirupam
Place: Kora Kendra, Borivali (West)
Prize: Rs.11 lakh for 11-tier pyramid, Rs.5 lakh for 10 tiers, Rs.3 lakh for nine tiers, Rs.2 lakh for eight-tier pyramid and special prize of Rs.11,000 for women Govindas
Special guests: Industries Minister Narayan Rane
Organiser: Abhijit Gosalkar, Shiv Sena councillor
Place: Dahisar Sports Complex, Dahisar (East)
Prize: Total prize of Rs.11,11,111. Rs.8,000 for eight-tier pyramid, Rs.5,000 for six tiers
Special prize for theme of female foeticide and rain water harvesting
Special Guests: Mayor Sunil Prabhu, Yuva Sena Chief Aditya Thackeray, Ramdas Kadam, Subash Desai, Gajanan Kirtikar and Rahul Shewale
Special attraction: Indian Idol fame Koshik Deshpande, Shajeev Bhelande, Amruta Natu. Also a cultural and musical programme
Shiv Sena Bhavan Dahi Handi
Place: Shiv Sena Bhavan, Dadar
Women Govinda: Rs.50,000 for eight-tier pyramid, Rs.25,000 for seven tiers
Special Guests: Mahesh Manjrekar, Avadhut Gupte and other film artists
Security: Arrangements in place and special insurance done of place
Andheri MNS Dahi Handi
Place: Two separate events at S.V. Rd, Jogeshwari (East) and Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri (West)
Prize: Total prize of Rs.11lakh. Rs.21,000 for nine-tier pyramid, Rs.7,000 for seven tiers
Andheri Shiv Sena
Organiser: Prasad Ahire
Place: Near Andheri railway station (West)
Prize: Rs.1,11,000 for eight-tier pyramid. For women Rs.51,111 for six-tier pyramid
Dharavi Shiv Sena Dahi Handi
Organiser: Dilip Katake
Place: 90 feet Rd, Ghatkopar (West)
Programme: Item girl Rakhi Sawant will break the Dahi Handi after condolence for death of Rajesh Khanna, awareness programme about toll naka
Prize: Total prize of Rs.5,55,555.
Dry day, unless it rains
To add enjoyment and fun during the Gopal Kala, huge water canons are trained on the pyramids. Hundreds of litres of water are used for this purpose. However, this year, due to low rainfall, reservoirs that provide water to the city are not full.
Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte has said, “As of now, the water stock in all reservoirs is only around 78 per cent of the total requirement. In other words, there is still a deficit of 22 per cent. So please use water judiciously and do not waste it during Gopal Kala and Dahi Handi celebrations.”