Pics by Rons Bantwal
Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai
Mumbai, Aug 25: The city drowned in the crescendo of drumbeats and devotional songs as lakhs of Mumbaikars celebrated Janmashtami, Lord Krishna's birthday, on Sunday.
Thousands of people thronged bylanes and residential localities of the city and its suburbs to witness dahi handis, suspended high above the ground, being broken by well-crafted human pyramids.
The rains, which provide respite to the sweating participants, were absent this year and the govindas had to withstand the humidity as they aimed high to break the pots.
At Lalbaug, Parel, Dadar, Girgaum and distant suburbs like Dahisar, as well as Thane, handis were suspended high up, strung from one-, two- or threestoreyed buildings to another as govindas broke them in their first, second or even third attempts.
In Thane's Vartak Nagar, Jai Jawan Mitra Mandal formed a nine-tier human pyramid. The feat earned the mandal Rs 11 lakh.
For many, like Sainath Krida Mandal, it was their first attempt at participation in the competition that calls for a high degree of skill, strength, courage and determination. "We broke a handi that was as high as a three-storeyed building,'' said Sanish Pawar, pointing at a chawl behind Chinchpokli station . The Fort-based group, which had been practising for the past month, planned to break more handis in central Mumbai as the evening set in.
Pawar's three-year-old son, Shailesh, climbed to the top of a six-storeyed human pyramid and broke the handi with a small stone he was carrying in his pocket. "It was a proud moment for me as my son had the guts to climb so high,'' he said, even as his son displayed the silver plaque and the cheque the team received from the chawl residents.
During the handi utsav, people in open trucks from south Mumbai move to the suburbs and viceversa , breaking handis in residential localities they have never visited before.
"When we break a handi, there are instant celebrations and people in the neighbourhood come forward and congratulate us. They give us food and water and there is instant bonding. We tell them that we will meet again the coming year,'' said Sidesh Mangaokar, treasurer of Gopal Krishna Krida Mandal.
This Lalbaug-based mandal broke around 15 handis and collected trophies and cash awards, travelling in and around Worli and Parel. At many places, the handis have been sponsored by political parties and local municipal corporators.
The show of political strength was bigger in suburbs like Dahisar and the city of Thane. On S V Road in Dahisar, for instance, huge cut-outs of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and MNS chief Raj Thackeray vied for attention and both parties announced that their exclusive women handi teams would fight it out for the top honours. "The prize money is getting bigger and bigger every year, thanks to political patronage. While we welcome sponsorship, we also feel that there should be adequate space for the smaller mandals,'' said Subash Sawant from Borivli's Hanuman Krida Mandal.
Many mandals were happy that other communities cheered them on while they broke the handis. "During this time of insecurity and terror, we are happy that all communities still trust each other and take part in the celebrations,'' Mangaokar said.
Daijiworld Janmastami Coverage: