CHIEF MINISTER Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said the Maharashtra government will not grant permission for this year’s Dahi Handi festival that falls on August 30. This is the second consecutive year the celebrations have been cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During a meeting, the CM requested the festival organisers to prioritise public health amid an ongoing pandemic and suggested that large scale public celebrations should be avoided. Senior government officials, members of the task force and the representatives of the Dahi Handi Samnvay Samiti attended the meeting.
“We all have the same feelings about the festival, but today’s priority is saving people’s lives. For the past one-and-a-half years, we have been fighting against Covid-19 and hence, we have to follow some restrictions. Some people speak against the curbs. Instead of agitating against the government, they should fight against Covid-19,” Thackeray said.
He added that the NITI Aayog’s recent report on the third wave’s possibility and the number of ICUs required has triggered the concern for Maharashtra.
Dahi Handi festival is celebrated to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. As part of the celebrations, teams of young boys and girls form human pyramids that participants scale to break an earthen pot, hanged at a certain height, filled with dahi (yogurt).
Dr Shashank Joshi, a task force member, said the festival is celebrated in huge gatherings and with very close human contact that can lead to a rise in Covid-19 infection.
“So our demand was that permission should be given this year to celebrate the festival in a small-scale manner. We also said we will provide two doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the teams and ensure their safety,” said Ahir.
He added that the CM and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar explained how the permission could not be given. “So, we will not organise Dahi Handi this year and hold social and health programs instead.”