Since yesterday’s High Court decision on Dahi Handi celebrations and the subsequent media coverage on the same, I have been inundated with questions, ideas, criticism but most of all my stand was misunderstood by the self-professed votaries of righteous behaviour. Let me take this opportunity to clarify my viewpoint.
At the onset, let me state that I am as sensitive as any of you and let me assure you that as organizers of the festival, people’s safety is of paramount importance to us and utmost care is taken to avoid accidents.
Govinda celebration is an important part of our Marathi culture. Besides the cultural sentiment associated with the festival, I have been fighting that Govinda be declared as Adventure sport and guiding principles be defined for mandals.
Every sport played worldwide has a certain degree of risk & threat to one’s life. However, the risk & threat to life is continuously monitored to mitigate the risk as far as possible by putting in safety measures without IMPACTING the LIFELINE of that sport. Take the example of the just concluded World Cup Football Tournament. Neymar, the star performer from the home country Brazil fractured his vertebra. In cricket, one can cite numerous instances where players were grievously injured or in some cases even lost precious lives. What about Motor Racing and Boxing – to name a few most risky sports. Has the speed of the cars been reduced or a boxer asked to land his punches in slow motion or a cricket bowler asked to bowl at a slower speed so that no injuries take place? Just imagine, if these things are put into practice what will happen to these sports? Any naive person can confidently vouch that they will seize to exist within no time.
If you think of most popular sports and question what are the LIFELINES which attracts spectators to these sports? Answers would be speed, skill, endurance, strength, power, ability, compactness of the game, test of the player’s nerves to delivery in adverse situations, spirit and so on. In short, the more adrenalin is pumped, the more connect it has with the audiences.
Dahi Handi as a sport is no exception to this rule. I was able to take this local Indian sport to National & International level only because of its most unique lifeline – The HEIGHT. Over the years participation of the Govindas kept on increasing exponentially as they strived harder to reach higher & higher each passing year. For them, achieving just one more layer of ring was not less than conquering the highest summit in the world – Mt. Everest. The biggest gift of God to mankind is the sense of satisfaction one achieves upon overcoming a challenge. It is to preserve this gift of God & spirit of the game that I want to challenge it in the Supreme Court. Let the LIFELINE of this sport be preserved albeit with all the safety measures arrived at, amicably, by having open discussions with affected parties. I wholeheartedly embrace the honourable High Court’s decision of limiting the age of participation to 18 years. However, any move to thrust a decision upon us without even allowing us to share our thoughts is objectionable.
It has taken 40 years to bring this Marathi Indian sport on the global map – first as an enthusiastic participant & later as a visionary organizer. Do you want me to just let it vanish into the annals of history?
– Dr. Jitendra Awhad
12 August 2014