Photograph courtesy: Sandeepa and Chetan/Creative Commons
Dahi Handi 2017 celebrations in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra are likely back on track with a new development in the Bombay High Court. In 2014-2016, after a Public Interest Litigation raised the issue of people getting injured in Dahi Handi competitions, the Bombay High Court and later on the Supreme Court passed rules that restricted the height of Dahi Handis to 20 feet and the age of participants to at least 18 years. The High Court ruling came in 2014, while the Supreme Court upheld the ruling in 2016. That year, folks wore black bands to protest the regulations, and many even openly broke the rules or subverted them in different ways. This year, another bench of the Bombay High Court has decided to ease restrictions, which should be making a lot of Dahi Handi Mandals in Maharashtra happy. ALSO READ: Dahi Handi celebrations in Mumbai: Best places to see dahi handi in Mumbai this year Also Read - Uddhav Thackeray a Revelation, Tweets Omar Abdullah; Sena 'Makeover' Earns Praise Amid Corona Fight
For some context, Dahi Handi is an adventurous and often dangerous competition that takes place on the second day of Krishna Janmashtami, also called Gokulashtami or simply Janmashtami. The festival celebrates the birth of the Hindu god Krishna, also known as Govinda. Tales of the god paint a picture of a mischievous child who would break earthen pots of butter milk hanging high up to drink its delicious contents. The Dahi Handi competition celebrates that mischievous streak and turns it into a tournament, with teams of Govindas forming human pyramids to break earthen pots of butter and curd hanging several feet high up. Also Read - Maharashtra Couple Exchanges Wedding Vows Through Video Call Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
However, accidents have happened in the past that have injured the participants, sometimes to a severe extent. In the last years, the two courts attempted to put a safety net over the competition by limiting the height of the Dahi Handi to 20 feet, but the reaction last year may have prompted the High Court to ease the rules. The Court accepted the state government’s argument that the competition is an adventure sport and agreed to change the rules to make it more inclusive. With the new rules, children from 14 years of age can also take part, down from the previous minimum age limit of 18 years. CHECK OUT: Janmashtami 2017 in Maharashtra: What to Expect For Gokulashtami This Year Also Read - Maharashtra Govt Mulls to Lift Curfew in Phased Manner After April 14 But Conditions Applied
The Court added that the legislature is free to set an appropriate height for human pyramid, easing off from its previous stance of a rigid 20-feet limit. It did, however, stress the need for adding safety precautions like belts, safety nets and cushions to prevent injuries from falls, and ordered that insurance coverage and a standby ambulance be present for the participants.