The Dahi Handi festival symbolises the cheerful spirit of Lord Krishna’s times at Nanda Gokul and the way he led the community of young lads towards a higher spiritual pursuit, at the same time, along with their games, in the lap of nature.
The Gopal Kala or Dahi Handi is much more than a mundane celebration that arrives when it is due, it is a cultural imprint of bygone times on the psyche of Maharashtrians. It celebrates a cultural epoch that is revisited and relived on a grand scale. One of the biggest festivals that a true Maharashtrian identifies himself with, on the Janmashtami of the playful Bal Krishna. The strains of ‘Govinda Ala re!’ harmoniously combined with the spirit of the Dahi Handi, make it exceedingly memorable. Read on to know more on this day.
Dahi Handi 2022: Date
Dahi Handi is arranged to be celebrated on the next day of Janmashtami, and this year it falls on Tuesday, 19 August 2022.
Dahi Handi 2022: History And Significance
The Dahi Handi [clay pot] s is hung about 20-30 feet high in the air using a rope that has silver coins tied along the length of the rope. These are also considered to be the prizes that the winners receive after winning the event. After forming the human pyramid, the person on the top tries to break the Dahi Handi. Onlookers keep splashing water on the participants to deter them. Once the Dahi Handi is broken into pieces, the prize is given away to the winners along with the pieces of the broken handi. Devotees firmly believe that the pieces of the handi keep negative energies away. People keep screeching Govinda ala re throughout the game.
There is a beautiful mythological story surrounding this event. Lord Krishna had a peculiar penchant for eating butter, and milk products, a typical infantile fancy that every kid, grows up with. When he was stopped from consuming butter at home, he stole butter from the homes of Gopis although they, due to the fear of Lord Krishna, used to hang it high near the ceiling. Lord Krishna was innovative enough to defeat all their attempts. He created a human pyramid along with his cowherd friends, who helped him reach the pots of butter, which had been hung near the ceiling. As per the Bhagavata Purana, the Dahi and butter in the handi used to double in its volume and taste, after Lord Krishna had a bite at it. Indeed, it was a testy situation for the Gopis.
It was essentially a Dahi handi which he ate from, and this was the inspiration behind the Dahi Handi festival that is being followed even today, in a symbolic manner. It is a game that is played between different teams that form the human pyramid to break the handi to snatch the prize. Read on to know more about this day.
Dahi Handi 2022: Celebrations
Dahi Handi is a peek into the childhood years of Lord Krishna. These days, many institutions take part in this festival by hanging a pot full of butter at an impossible height and inviting multiple teams to come and have a try at breaking the pot, by constructing a human pyramid. One person who is appointed to be Govinda of that group actually climbs the human pyramid to go up and break the handi. The rest is sheer bliss, to watch the cheering crowds, the trickling droplets of curds on everyone’s face, the prancing kids, around the handi. The mood spells revelry at every step.
Mumbai, Gujarat and Goa are exactly where this is celebrated with all enthusiasm and spirit. Locations of Dadar, Worli, Prabhadevi, Mazgaon, Lalbaug, Borivali and Thane are where the Dahi handi participants become eager for their chance to break the pot by forming the human pyramid.
Dahi Handi is an organized affair, that is spearheaded by several committees in the locality who fix prizes of cash and are kind to the winning participants. In Mumbai alone, around 2000 Govindas vie with each other to break around 4000 handis. Shirdi and Nasik also attach significance to this and celebrate it religiously every year. The concept was slowly lapped up by other states who also began practising the game/festival. In some states, it is called “MatkaPhod’.
Mumbai celebrations have a hint of glamour as well. Bollywood celebrities are invited as guests, the media is engaged to capture the event, blow by blow, and it is covered extensively by TV channels. On the day of the Handi, a group of Govindas actually comb the area, locality by locality to locate their dahi handis, to just revel in the entire procedure.
The excited screeches of ‘Govinda a la re’ heard all around the place keep the spirits of the people high and energized. Several songs are sung on this occasion. A pandit performs the rituals before the event begins. The clay pot can be filled with curd, butter, ghee, dry fruits or sweets. The bhog offered to Lord Krishna on this day is a sweet delicacy made of yoghurt, rice and jaggery.
Mandals or groups of people practice the game, days in advance to be ready for the main game on the Day of Dahi Handi. Cash prizes are given away, but they depend on the number of tiers in the human pyramid, the way it is carried out and the celebrity presence.
Sometimes, a cash prize up to 1 crore is given away to the winners. It is announced prior to the event on banners that are displayed all over the city. Celebrities performing at the event are treated as a celebrated scene from a box office hit. Way back in 2012, some foreign troupes had come down to Mumbai to train the contestants in acrobatics just to make the event more colourful. Some also use this as an opportunity to create awareness of impending issues. Only people above 18 years of age are allowed to participate in the event, as per law. However, to avoid mishaps, the Maharashtra high court has set the maximum limit for hanging Dahi handi at 20 feet.
Disclaimer: The information is based on assumptions and information available on the internet and the accuracy or reliability is not guaranteed. Boldsky does not confirm any inputs or information related to the article and our only purpose is to deliver information. Kindly consult the concerned expert before practising or implementing any information and assumption.
Image sources: Wikimedia Commons
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