Mumbai politicians cry foul after SC imposes age, height limit for Dahi Handi

Mumbai politicians cry foul after SC imposes age, height limit for Dahi Handi
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The Supreme Court ruling on age bar of ‘govindas’ participating in Dahi Handi has left political leaders and local groups from the state disappointed, who are seeing it as a setback to the festive tradition. Following its announcement on Wednesday, the groups have already demanded that the state government file a review petition in the case.

Arun Sawant, the spokesperson of the Mumbai Congress, termed the age-limit 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.”

Sawant further stated that only small organisers who put govindas’ lives at risk during the Dahi Handi celebrations.

The state’s ruling party, BJP, also said that it will do every bit to protect the essence of the festival. “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.

Congress leader and former MP Sanjay Nirupam demanded that the state government file a review petition in the Supreme Court.
“This government should take a leaf from the Tamil Nadu government which challenged the ban imposed on Jallikattu by the Supreme Court after which it had to withdraw the ban,” he said.

NCP demanded the Centre’s intervention in the matter to save the tradition. “Since state government has miserably failed to put forth its stand on the issue, therefore our party demands union government to step in and preserve the tradition,” said Uday Pratap Singh, Mumbai NCP spokesperson.

“The previous government had taken bold steps to secure this festival with the cooperation of Dahi Handi mandals under the leadership of NMS leader Bala Nandgaonkar. But this government is busy defending ban on dance bars and has lost focus of sentimental and religious issues,” he said.

In contrast, Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe refused to comment over the SC ruling without going through the judgement.

Bhau Koregaonkar, associated with ‘Gorakhnath Mahila Dahi Handi Pathak’, the oldest and leading Dahi-Handi team of female govindas, also reacted cautiously and said the onus is on the state government to protect the rich culture and tradition embodied in the festival.

“Supreme Court’s decision cannot be blatantly slammed because definitely there is a lot of risk involved in this ritual. There have been so many untoward incidents that forced the judiciary to put a cap on it,” said Koregaonkar.

“I think there should be a regulating agency to control and guide this tradition. Dahi Handi organisers must be issued licenses under strict guidelines,” he added.

The apex court on Wednesday ruled that youth below 18 years of age cannot participate in Dahi Handi and the height of the human pyramid cannot exceed 20 feet.

With inputs from PTI

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