After two years of subdued revelry, the ‘Dahi Handi’ festival is likely to be celebrated on a grand scale in Maharashtra as the government has lifted all coronavirus-related curbs. The festival sees groups of ‘govindas’ moving around in cities and vying with each other in breaking dahi handis (earthen pots filled with yogurt and suspended in mid-air) and winning prizes.
This year, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced in the Assembly on Thursday that the Maharashtra government has decided to accord adventure sport status to Dahi Handi. The adventure sport tag will allow young participants (called govindas) in Dahi Handi events, organised to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna, to apply for government jobs under the sports quota.
Organisers of the event, mostly political parties, have been upping the ante as the prize money announced ranges between Rs 1.11 lakh to Rs 55 lakh.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has announced a total prize amount of Rs 55 lakh this year. The MNS’s Thane and Palghar president, Avinash Jadhav, said the winner will get Rs 11 lakh for the winner of the event organised by the party. The team that equals or breaks the world record will also get a chance to visit Spain.
The BJP, in a bid to assert itself in the Shiv Sena bastions, has decided to organise over 300 Dahi Handi events across Mumbai. The biggest one will be held at Jamboree maidan, in Aaditya Thackeray’s home constituency of Worli.
In a constituency with at least 3 Sena MLAs, the BJP move is being seen a coup of sorts. Newly-appointed Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar has thrown his weight behind the event.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has organised ‘Nishtha Dahi Handi’ opposite it’s headquarter of Sena Bhavan. Aaditya Thackeray will visit the dahi handis organised by his party leaders and CM Shinde will also be seen visiting the political dahi handis.
The Swami Pratishthan announced Rs 51 lakh in total prize money for its event and the winner will receive Rs 11 lakh.
Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik said there will be Rs 21 lakh for the team that breaks the world record at the event organised by the Sanskranti Yuva Pratisthan with the Partap Sarnik Foundation and Shiv Sena.
Thane MP Rajan Vichare has said that there will be two handis, one named after Bal Thackeray and another after Anand Dighe. The first prize will be Rs 11 lakh for each of them. “This is the handi of loyalty, unity, culture and the voice of Hindutva. This handi is blessed by Anand Dighe and organised by the Anand Charitable Trust,” he was quoted by Times of India as saying.
Kalyan MP Srikant Shinde and former Thane mayor Naresh Mhaske have said the winners at the Tembhi Naka event started by the late Shiv Sena politician Anand Dighe will get Rs 2.15 lakh each for two handis, one for Thane and the other for Mumbai.
The BJP’s Ram Kadam will host a Dahi Handi event with 75 little boys dressed as Lord Krishna and 75 small outfits resembling Bharat Mata.