Entire Mumbai city celebrates Dahi Handi, a traditional Hindu Festival, that marks the birth of Lord Krishna, which is also referred to as Krishna Janmashtami, here in India with intense religious fervor. Dahi Handi is celebrated the day after Janmashtami in Maharashtra. The boys and girls who participate in this traditional ritual, are referred to as “Govindas”, who perform the custom of breaking an earthen pot which is full of curd, butter and milk, that is tied to a long horizontal rope between two buildings or between two trees. The small childrens or “Govindas” form a human pyramid structure which can be anything from 15 ft to 35 ft in height. It is a truly festive atmosphere everywhere, as boys, girls and adults throughout the city of Mumbai, participate in this customary ritual that is also held across the length and breadth of the state. The beat of the drums are to be heard in the streets, with men wearing orange or saffron turbans and women in Kolhapuri style sari are to be seen beating drums in large numbers. This is certainly a festive atmosphere throughout the state of Maharashtra, as it is celebrated with immense passion and religious fervor.
Its Rain, Beat of Drums and Fun
Since Janmashtami is held during the rainy season, it is splash of water everywhere, especially in Mumbai where the festival is held across the city and its suburbs. The rain god seems to be blessing this event with frequent showers that cools the surrounding ambiance. The Govinda Tolis are to be seen in the local housing communities (chawls), in the streets, in busy city intersections and in playgrounds where the customary ritual takes place. Participation of school going children is huge, especially the boys who come out in numbers to break the ‘matka’ or the earthen pot that is tied atop between two buildings. It is really an achievement for a local club/community that breaks the pot and wins lots of cash prizes that are offered by the local parties, NGOs and government representatives. This special event marks the celebration of the birth of Lord Shree Krishna, and imitating the Lord’s activities and plays that he used to perform in Vrindavan, which is in present day Uttar Pradesh state. The girls and women are in colorful silk sarees, especially Kanjivaram sarees that is worn in a Kolhapuri style. The boys and men are in white kurta pyjamas with colorful turbans or pagdi. This is truly a happy, joyous and festive atmosphere with the rich colors of life that are to be seen in every nook and corner of Mumbai.