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Rediff News  All News  » News » Gokulashtami special: Mumbai's richest dahi handis

Gokulashtami special: Mumbai's richest dahi handis

Last updated on: September 2, 2010 10:55 IST

Image: Dahi Handi celebrations in Mumbai
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/

Janmashtami celebrations, to mark the birthday of Lord Krishna, had lost some of its colour and sparkle last year due to the swine flu scare in Mumbai.

All political parties had decided that their leaders would refrain from organising Dahi Handi celebrations due to the swine flu threat.

During Dahi Handi, enthusiastic youths form human pyramids to reach a pot located at a considerable height, often lured by the attractive prize money. The custom of Dahi Handi celebrates the mischievousness of the young Krishna, whose favourite task was stealing the butter stored by his mother Yashoda and other women in Gokul. takes you to some of the richest Dahi Handi celebrations in the metropolis, which offer an eye-popping amount of prize money. ...

Reportage: N Ganesh in Mumbai

Panch Pakhadi, Thane

Organising group: Sangharsh

Organiser: Nationalist Congress Party Member of Legislative Assembly Jitendra Awhad

Whatever MLA Awhad does, it has to be loud and ostentatious. His Dahi Handi celebration is no exception. The event boasts of three pots covered with layers worth 150 gms of gold. Besides announcing a prize money of Rs 25 lakh for a record 10-storied human pyramid, Awhad has announced a prize money of Rs 15 lakh for a nine-storied human pyramid.

He has also roped in popular DJs and the mega event will be documented by two American film makers, who want to capture the ebullient mood of the festivities.

Samata Nagar, Thane

Organising group: Sanskruti Yuva Pratishan

Organiser: Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik

Sarnaik, a former NCP leader, had fallen out with his benefactor Awhad. So he leaves no stone unturned to ensure that all those who matter flock to his event. He has announced a prize money of Rs 25 lakh for any group that forms a 10-storied pyramid, Rs 11 lakh for a nine-storied one and a 500 gm silver memento for those who manage to make an eight-storied pyramid.

Though the reckless youth of Mumbai's Govinda mandals are known to form eight-storied pyramids, seven and fewer layers are more common. In 2008, Sarnaik's event became the cynosure of all eyes when a group formed a nine-layered human pyramid, which happens to be an Indian record.

Tembhi Naka, Thane

Organising group: Shiv Sena

Organiser: Sena MLA Eknath Shinde

Compared to the Rs 25 lakh prize money offered by other mandals, Sena's offering of 200 gm or 22 carat gold worth Rs 3 lakh may seem like a trifle.

But it is not the prize money that draws the Govindas and the crowd; it is the prestige of having conquered one of the oldest Dahi Handis of Thane. Tembhi Naka was considered the mother of all Thane Dahi Handis, popularised by the late Anand Dighe.

It was Dighe who doled out bigger prize money and managed to get coverage by Doordarshan. After being telecast on Doordarshan, Tembhi Naka became one of the few Dahi Handis to be covered by the BBC.

Jambli Naka, Thane

Organising group: Anand Charitable Trust

Organiser: Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Vichare

Vichare has promised modest prize money of Rs 1.11 lakh for breaking the handi. He has also announced prize money of Rs 51,000 for pyramids formed by women's groups.

He also announced prize money ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 for women forming pyramids of four levels to six levels respectively and Rs 500 to Rs 3,000 for men making pyramids of four levels to seven levels.

Though the prize money is modest, it is the location that draws the crowds as it adjacent to the picturesque Masunda lake. Vichare has tied up with Oriental Insurance to provide cover to all those mandals participating in his event.

Jogeshwari, Mumbai

Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/

Organiser: Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam

Member of Parliament Sanjay Nirupam shifted his Dahi Handi event from Andheri East to Jogeshwari when he faced the prospect of contesting from Mumbai North. He organised the event at Andheri East till he was a member of the Shiv Sena and contested from Mumbai North-West.

After joining the Congress, he has changed his constituency as Congress leader Priya Dutt contested from Mumbai North-West. Nirupam has announced a prize money of Rs 11 lakh this year.