Only 42 organisers this year as court clamps new rules
Because of the new rules and restrictions imposed by the Bombay high court and upheld by the Supreme Court, the number of dahi handi events organised in zone 1 of Navi Mumbai police commissionerrate has decreased by 55%.
The area, between Digha and Belapur, saw only 42 dahi handi organisers this year compared to the 94 last year. The number of participants in each mandal too has dropped drastically, claimed sources.
The Supreme Court, had last week, upheld the Bombay high court’s verdict of banning youth below the age of 18 to participate in the human pyramid and restricting its height to 20 feet.
“We served notices to all the mandals that had sought permission from us to organise the festival. They were asked to follow the guidelines of the Supreme Court and were told that punitive measures would be taken in case they violate the rules. This discouraged several organisers and they cancelled their events,” said Prashant Khaire, deputy commissioner of police (zone 1).
According to Khaire, most of the organisers who cancelled their celebrations are from the areas like Vashi, Nerul and AMPC. “After all the cancellations only three mandals in Vashi, seven each in Nerul and APMC held the dahi handi celebrations,” he said.
The new rules, however, have not been able to play spoilsport in city zone II. People celebrated the festival with much enthusiasm in areas like Panvel, Uran, Kalamboli, Khandeshwar, and New Panvel.
There were 180 organisers in zone II this year, which was almost the same as in 2015.
Commenting on this, the deputy commissioner of police (zone II) Vishwash Pandhare, said, “Ours is a semi-rural area and at least one dahi handi is organised in every village. With 64 organisers, the jurisdiction of Panvel taluka police stations appeared to be the most happening place on Thursday. We spoke to all of them beforehand and asked to celebrate the festival without violating any norms.”
Corporator from Nerul Ravindra Ithape said, “We have been celebrating the festival for the past 15 years and it was one of biggest dahi handis in Navi Mumbai. But with the new rules it has become extremely risky to organise the events. Govindas come from different places of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Raigad district. The height of the human pyramid can be restricted but since the govindas come in hundreds from all over the state, how will we monitor their age?
We did not want to take the risk and so we called off the celebrations this year.”
Several other mandals who celebrated the festival this year said that might not organise it next year. “People have lost interest in the festival because of the restrictions. The size of the too has reduced to a great extent this year. With such lack of enthusiasm, we may not organise the festival next year,” said Santosh Shetty, a corporator from New Panvel.