Dahi Handi celebrations to mark Krishna Janmashtami got off to a colourful start in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra on Thursday, with some ‘mandals’ allegedly flouting the 20-foot ceiling for human pyramids mandated by the Supreme Court.
The apex court had yesterday made it clear that no human pyramid could cross 20 feet in height in the entire state of Maharashtra.
However, in adjoining Thane district, a “Dahi Handi” was strung up at 49 feet this morning, more than double the height allowed by the Supreme Court.
The organiser is a worker of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
Thackeray had told workers of his party that the festival, which celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, should be observed “the way it’s meant to be.”
In suburban Dadar here, some Dahi Handi mandal members lay on ground and performed a ‘sleeping pyramid’ exceeding the court norm of 20 feet. While another mandal used a ladder to break the traditional ‘pot’ and also displayed a black flag apparently to protest against the SC ruling on the festival.
A fresh plea was filed in the apex court by Jai Jawan Krida Mandal Govinda Pathak in a last ditch attempt to get over the restriction.
The organisation argued that as youths below 18 years of age have been barred from participating in the Dahi Handi ritual, the cap on the height of the human pyramid should be relaxed as adventure is part of every sport.
The Supreme Court was, however, unconvinced by the argument.
With over 3,300 mandals organising their own Dahi Handi competitions across Mumbai and adjoining areas, police said they will video-record the proceedings to ensure that the Supreme Court order is not violated.
Police issued notices to organisers informing them of the apex court order and are video-recording every human pyramid.
Earlier, the court, on August 17, had refused to relax conditions put by the Bombay High Court like barring youths below 18 years of age from participating in Dahi Handi festival in Maharashtra and capping the height of the human pyramid at 20 feet.
The SC bench did not agree with the contention that the festival had the colour of popular sport and there should be no cap on the height of the pyramid in view of the fact that the court has already barred youths below 18 years of age from taking part in it.