Mumbai: This year's 'dahi handi' celebrations left over 270 people injured. Three 'govindas' were also put on ventilators. The problem is that the height of human pyramids is increasing every year and politicians are only making things worse.
Janmashtami saw 'govindas' brimming with high-voltage energy, their sole aim being to break the coveted 'dahi handi', even if it required forming pyramids as high as 30 to 40 feet.
But one wrong step could mean almost a fatal fall. Thirty-year-old Dattataray Salonke and two other 'govindas' are now on ventilators after suffering serious head injuries.
Last year, a 16-year-old student had lost his life and this year, at least 270 landed in hospitals across Mumbai with broken limbs. This led some political organisers to demand a check on the ever-increasing heights of the 'handis'.
Bala Nandgaonkar, MNS leader, said: "There should be some limit, seven to eight layers is fine, but forming 9-10 layers is very difficult. For some it's a game, for others it's fatal."
Ironically, some of the politicians offer grand prize money at these events. Jitendra Awhad, NCP leader, said: "Others pay around Rs 3,000 to every group. My prize money is five times more than any of the others at Rs 25,000."
So what's the general mood on the streets over this fancy for 'dahi handis'? "It has become a race. Someone gives Rs 30,000 as prize money, while others give Rs 70,000," said a Mumbaikar.
"There shouldn't be a prize money of even Rs 2. It's about religion, after all," said another local.
While festivities have turned into a nightmare for the Salonkes, it's the high-profile political organisers indulging in showmanship, who perhaps need to introspect.