Janmashtami or Dahi Handi is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal in the state of Maharashtra, mainly Pune and Mumbai.The Dahi handi to be broken is situated at a convenient height where it is broken by the topmost member of the human pyramid.
When the Dahi handi has been broken the contents of the handi such as Milk and other fillings fall on the members of the Govinda Pathak, symbolizing their achievement through unity.These pathaks usually travel atop trucks throughout the city breaking Handi’s at different places usually for cash rewards or other gifts and prizes.The Pathaks nowadays also just make pyramids and give salami’s or salutes once they are able to complete the promised number of layers or thar’s.
This festival is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Krishna an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who was born to end the reign of the demon King Kansa and start a peaceful kingdom of Ayodhya.At first, this festival was a private affair but during the British times somewhere around 1890 Bal Gangadhar Tilak made it into a public event to protest against the British ban on large public Gatherings.But lately, this festival has turned into nothing but a money making thing where one Pathak tries to beat another Pathak into making the higher pyramid than the other, leaving the breaking of the handi as a secondary objective.Also, the prizes have run into Lakhs of rupees with political parties trying to get as much mileage from these activities by spending lakhs and lakhs of rupees on cash prizes to these Pathak’s at the cost of heavy injuries to the members of the Pathak or in some cases even death.These days several laws are passed by the government to reduce accidents and harm to the members of the Govinda Pathak such as limiting the no. of layers and having a age camp on the youngest member of the Dahi Handi group.
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