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Dahi Handi or Govinda Sport is an Indian festival, celebrated every August, that involves making a human pyramid and breaking an earthen pot filled with buttermilk. A participants in this festival is called a govinda or govinda pathak. The festival is a part of Gokulashtami, which is the celebration of the god Krishna's birth. It is mostly popular in the state of Maharashtra and Mumbai.
During childhood the god Krishna and his friends in Vrindavan, the village in Uttar Pradesh state of India, where Krishna was brought up, used to form human pyramids to break pots hung in neighbourhood houses in order to steal curd and butter. He used to distribute it among his friends. He did this because, during King Kaunsa's rule (his maternal uncle) small children of Vrindavan village were deprived of milk products produced in their villages, as their parents were forced to give everything produced to Kaunsa's home in Mathura village.
Significance and description
Dahi Handi (dahi: buttermilk, handi: earthen pot) festival is popular in the Maharashtra state of India and in Mumbai. The sport involves making a human pyramid and breaking an earthen pot filled with milk, curd, butter, fruits and water which is hung at a convenient height. It is organized on Gokulashtami every year to celebrate the birth of the Krishna every August.
The terms govinda or govinda pathak are used to refer to the people who participate in forming this human pyramid. They practise in groups weeks before the actual event. These groups are called mandals. Pyramid formation needs coordination and focus; the lowest layers consist of the most number of people, preferably sturdy, while the middle layer people pay attention to those below and the others who stand on their shoulders. The outer layer individuals need to focus on maintaining balance. As lighter people are needed higher up, the topmost layer usually has a single child. The pyramid formation is often accompanied by crowds, music and dancing.
Celebration and economics
The participants form a pyramid consisting of as many as 9-tiers, and are given three attempts to break the earthen pot. Every year thousands of people gather at Mumbai and Thane's Dahi Handi events. The prize money for the events usually range between 1 crore (US$170,000)–2 crore (US$330,000) depending on the organizers and its sponsors. The participation of local and state political parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), with each offering their own prize money. Each party sponsors its own set of mandals.
Actors from Bollywood, Marathi actors and singers take part in this event. Some mandals even incorporated social messages like female foeticide or about the environment into their act; the Shiv Sena and MNS focus on Marathi culture. The presence of these mass celebrations and mandals because of Dahi Handi cause traffic congestion and problems like excessive littering after the celebrations.
In 2012, a mandal called Jai Jawan Govinda Pathak from Jogeshwari, Mumbai, made an entry into the Guinness World Record by forming a human pyramid of 9-tiers 43.79 feet (13.35 m) at the Dahi Handi event held in Thane. The previous record was held by Spain since 1981.
- DMello, Daniel (4 October 2011). "8 incredible facts about Mumbai". CNN. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- Ashutosh Shukla; Geeta Desai (27 August 2013). "Dahi handi stakes grow bigger". DNA. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- Ambarish Mishra; Nitin Yeshwantrao; Bella Jaisinghani (11 August 2012). "Nine-tier handi breaks into Guinness Records". Times of India. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
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