In the wake of severe floods in western Maharashtra, especially in Kolhapur and Sangli districts, earlier this month, the 'dahi handi' festival is being celebrated in a subdued manner in Mumbai and other parts of the state on Saturday.
Several dahi handi mandals and organisers of events in Mumbai and other parts of the state have decided to keep the celebrations low-key, to show solidarity with the people affected by the devastating floods. Some of the mandals are also donating money for the flood relief work.
The dahi handi ritual is part of the Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra, where youngsters (called Govindas), dressed in colourful attire, make a human pyramid to reach an earthen pot containing buttermilk and suspended in mid-air and break it.
Gorakhnath Mahila Dahi Handi Pathak Mandal, an organisation of women Govindas, has decided to celebrate the festival just to keep the tradition on.
"We are going to celebrate the Dahi handi festival, but not with usual fervour. We will celebrate it just to keep our tradition on. We cannot forget the hardships our brothers and sisters are facing in parts of the state due to severe floods," founder of the mandal Bhau Koregaonkar said.
"Our women Govindas will reach the place and just break the pot," he added.
BJP leader Ram Kadam, who is known for holding grand dahi handi events, has also decided to celebrate the festival this year without any glitter.
"We will celebrate this festival as part of our culture, but it will be done in a simple manner. There is no need to splurge money and the saved money will be sent to help the flood-hit brothers and sisters of the state," he said.
Minister of State for Women and Child Development and BJP MLA from Goregaon, Vidya Thakur, said, "This year, we are not celebrating the dahi handi festival due to Maharashtra floods and the cost of Rs one lakh incurred for the festival will be donated to the CM Relief Fund."
Bala Padelkar of the Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti, which coordinates with several mandals in Mumbai, said the celebrations will not be grand keeping in mind the havoc wreaked by floods in the state this year.
"Many politicians are holding simple Dahi Handi celebrations citing severe floods in the state," he said.
Heavy rains and floods battered several areas of western Maharashtra and Konkan region earlier this month, with Kolhapur and Sangli districts bearing the maximum brunt. The floods claimed 58 lives in western Maharashtra.