Kr­ishna devo­tees carry on 286-year-old rit­ual

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI - Sang­hami­tra Sen­gupta sang­hami­tra.sen­gupta@hin­dus­tan­

While most of the peo­ple in the city were busy in cel­e­brat­ing Dahi Handi the con­ven­tional style, on Thurs­day, in the in­te­ri­ors of old Pan­vel, at Ba­p­at­wada, around 300 vol­un­teers gath­ered in a trance like state to ob­serve a 286-year-old tra­di­tion of break­ing the pot fes­ti­val.

Thou­sand­sof devo­teesof Lord Kr­ishna gath­ered to wit­ness the rit­u­als, which is one of the most unique dahi handi celebrations in the city. The Ba­p­at­wada fam­ily has been or­gan­is­ing this rit­ual for over two cen­turies, from the time the Ba­pat fam­ily moved into the colony in 1700s.

This is the only dahi handi cel­e­bra­tion that does not have any money or spe­cial prizes to of­fer to its par­tic­i­pants.

Ra­jen­dra Ba­pat, 39, the cur­rent owner of the colony, said that the sole in­ten­tion of the rit­ual is to en­act the dahi handi in a to­tally non-com­mer­cial form. “The en­tire tra­di­tion was started by my fore­fa­ther Balaji Par­tic­i­pants at the dahi handi cel­e­bra­tion in Pan­vel. This is the only dahi handi cel­e­bra­tion that does not have any money.

Pant Ba­pat when he bought two eight-inch sil­ver idols of Vithoba and Rukhum­abai from Dahi handi celebrations at Ra­bale was unique as par­tic­i­pants did not have to worry about flout­ing rules.

Pand­harpur in around 1730 and started wor­ship­ping them in the colony tem­ple. We then started

ob­serv­ing the Jan­mash­tami celebrations fol­lowed by this rit­ual every year,” said Ba­pat.

The 10-day long celebrations for Jan­mash­tami be­gan from Nairali Purn­ima and the Jan­mash­tami puja was per­formed on Wed­nes­day mid­night when clay idols of Lord Kr­ishna, Balaram, Va­sudev, De­vaki, Nanda and Yashoda were wor­shipped.

Apart from the lack of cash prizes, the handi in this rit­ual is not ac­tu­ally bro­ken by govinda pathaks but by vol­un­teers from 10 other as­so­ci­a­tions from in and around Pan­vel who are ded­i­cated wor­ship­pers Vithoba and Rukhum­abai. No other persons are al­lowed to en­ter the colony to break the handi.

“The dahi handi was hung at an arm reach level in the court­yard and bro­ken by the vol­un­teers with a sil­ver stick called ‘ra­jyadanda’ be­long­ing to the Ba­pat fam­ily which my fore­fa­ther had bought along with the idols. On the 10th day, the clay idols will be im­mersed in a wa­ter body, that will be fol­lowed by a pro­ces­sion of Kr­ishna devo­tees from Pan­vel,” said Ba­pat.

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