Dahi handi mandals in Maharashtra remain confused over Supreme Court ruling

While we're only a day away from the Janmashtmi festival, Govinda groups or pathaks in Mahrashtra still remain unclear over the participation of underage 'govindas' and the height of the pyramids in the 'Dahi Handi' celebration ritual, reported The Indian Express.

Last week, the Supreme Court had barred youngsters below 18 years of age from participating in the Dahi Handi ritual, and had restricted the height of the human pyramids to 20 feet, a limit fixed by the Bombay High Court.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

However, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a fresh plea seeking to relax the cap of 20-feet height of the human pyramid fixed by it for the ritual.

A bench comprising Justices AR Dave, UU Lalit and L Nageswara Rao said that it will hear, on Wednesday itself, a plea on the issue as the festival is to be celebrated on Thursday across the country.

The fresh plea has been filed by Mumbai-based Jai Jawan Krida Mandal Govinda Pathak. The organisation says that now that the youth 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.

If there is no adventure in a game, then there is no point in celebrating it, the Krida Mandal says.

The Supreme Court ruling that imposed caps on the Dahi Handi celebration was met with great disappointment. Political leaders and local groups saw the move as a setback to the festive tradition and demanded that the state government file a review petition in the case.

Arun Sawant, the spokesperson of the Mumbai Congress, had termed the cap as "unnecessary" and said, "This is really very disheartening because in the last few years, many organisers have come forward to take care of govindas in case of any eventuality. They vouched for the well-being of the govindas and took upon their medical and financial responsibility if anything untoward happens."

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress have decided to steer clear of the festivities, as a mark of protest against the Supreme Court ruling, reports The Hindu.

"Such sort of a cap is an attempt to spoil our rich culture of Dahi Handi which not only unites youth but also makes them stronger. We are going to do every bit to save this popular festival," Mumbai BJP spokesperson Yogesh Verma said. Ruling BJP had said that it will do every bit to protect the "sheen" of the festival.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray had also expressed reservations over the Supreme Court banning participation of minors in the 'Dahi-Handi' festival, saying that courts should refrain from meddling in matters of tradition and culture.

"The courts should not interfere in festivals, which have been happening for years together. The courts are taking all the decisions. If this goes on, why have the Assembly or Lok Sabha elections? Let the courts decide on everything," Thackeray had said.

Thackrey had also said that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was not serious regarding the issue of Dahi Handi. Fadnavis on the other hand has maintained that celebration of the festival should be carried out following all the norms.

Shiv Sena too had spoken against the Supreme Court ruling and said that "Ganeshotsav, Dahi Handi and Navratra festival are all parts of our beliefs. Courts which are now governing us should not cross the Lakshman Rekha at least in these issues,"

The Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) despite their discontent, are gearing up for massive celebrations. However both the parties have provided assurance that the festivities will be in compliance with the Supreme Court verdict, as per the reports in The Hindu.

The police taking stringent measures have said that they will keep a close watch on violation of rules by the Pathaks and Mandals, reported The Indian Express.

“We have already informed the mandals in writing to follow the directions of the Supreme Court and will take necessary action if any mandal violates the orders,” said a senior police officer. The police will be video recording the process at various venues across the cities, according to The Indian Express report.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 24, 2016 12:44:25 IST

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