With Janmashtami celebrations scheduled on Sunday, around 500 mandals have already applied for life cover of Rs10 lakh till Friday, an official of Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti, the umbrella body of mandals, said. “We have requested every mandal to apply for the insurance and so far, they have been forthcoming. Mandals have been asked to ensure that people form queues during the celebrations. Our motto is Surakshit Dahi Handi, Surakshit Govinda,” said Bala Padelkar of the Samiti.
To avoid any mishap, a few mandals this year have also decided to refrain from celebrating Dahi Handi festival. Krishna Hegde Pratishthan, which has been organising the events in Vile Parle for the past four years, decided not to form human pyramid this year. “In last five years, statistics show 1,171 people got injured during the celebrations in Mumbai and several died. So, we decided not to form human pyramid this year,” MLA Krishna Hegde, who organises the event, said.
In August last year, 15-year-old Bhimashankar Natkar died at the Dr RN Cooper hospital while undergoing treatment for a fracture sustained from a fall from a human pyramid during a practice session for the Dahi Handi festival. Data from BMC’s health department shows that in 2016, around 126 Govindas suffered injuries and in 2015, around 364 Govindas were hurt during the celebrations.
The Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti has also decided to encourage Govindas to form safe pyramids. According to Mahesh Tambat, organiser of the Shri Sai Govinda Pathak (Kala Chowki), the youngest participant in the human pyramid will be a 14-year-old boy. “He has been practising for two years. Our mandal is 10 years old. We have never witnessed any major injury,” Tambat said, adding that the mandal has already got itself insured.
Last year, the Bombay High Court directed the state government to finalise the height of human pyramid for Janmashtami celebrations, while scrapping a 20-feet restriction and also asked it to ensure that children less than 14 years of age did not participate as govindas.