Dahi-handi is now an adventure sport.
What’s new about that, you say?
We all knew it’s dangerous. Only reckless idiots would try to shatter an earthen pot five to six storeys above the ground without a safety net.
That is the point the state government apparently is trying to make.
Celebrations of the birth of the Hindu deity, Krishna, have to be tempered.
School-going children and college youth are not to be made victims of the dangerous stunts pulled by teams in competitions for prizes and money.
The sport will be regulated.
Human pyramids will adhere to strict standards and guidelines.
No kids under 12. Kids aged 12-15 will need their parents’ permission.
The rules apply to every pyramid that has more than four tiers.
Govinda troupes have to register themselves, impart proper training, hold demonstrations and institute certificates and awards.
Medical treatment is to be provided if a participant is injured. Foam mattresses, harnesses, and guards for knees, chest and head are to be put to effective use. And Govindas are to be insured.
The sport is now permitted throughout the year given its ‘adventure’ status.
The new rules and regulations have dampened many organizers’ enthusiasm.
One of the reasons is that it is also a religious activity and with the accompanying frenzy that ensues means that mandals pay scant attention to the organizers and the rules of the game.
The Bombay High Court previously restricted the height of pyramids to 20 feet; this implies that since each layer is about five feet, only four layers are practical under this ruling.
The festival has many competitions happening all over the city and state with prize money running into lakhs of rupees. Bollywood stars are often attractions at these mandals.
Mumbai celebrated Janmashtami last Sunday. The number of injuries were drastically reduced this year, falling from 300 to 130. Only 12 were seriously injured compared to 29 last year.
There was only one fatality this year.