Gokulashtami is the festival of team sport, where a community form a human pyramid to reach a hanging earthen pot filled with dahi (yogurt) or other milk delicacy at a difficult to reach height. Young men and boys form human pyramid and make an attempt to reach and break this earthern pot. It involves many risks and injuries as human pyramid collapse very often. Dahi Handi is celebrated after lord Krishna was born i.e. the next day of Janmashtami. Lord Krishna was born in the month of Shravan and is celebrated either in August or September of every year. The human pyramid to break the handi is done in an attempt to enact lord Krishna’s childhood. It is most prominent in the northern parts of India, especially, Mathura.
On August 17, 2016, the High Court had declared some guidelines for participating in Dahi Handi. At first, they directed that the person below 18 years should not participate in Dahi Handi. Later Supreme Court allowed children above 12 years to participate in the human pyramid but only if the organizers guarantee implementation of safety measures. Supreme Court directed that the pot should hang within 20 feet from the ground. This brought a kind of dissatisfaction among Dahi Handi groups also called as ‘Pathak’ as they called it meddling in their religious beliefs. Later, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra issued a Government Resolution, that Dahi Handi will be a sport approved by the government and will be played with rules and regulation.
1. The court limited the height of the handi to 20 feet and banned minors from the events.
2. Children below 12 years are not allowed to perform.
3. Minor have to provide approved letters from their parents.
4. Group performing human pyramid should be trained and registered.
5. Team or organizers must ensure that the team members have a safety equipment like helmet, chest guard, etc.
6. Organizers must get personal insurance of every member performing pyramid.
Dahi Handi is the festival based on culture where imitating lord Krishna’s act of stealing butter when he was a baby, is the way of celebrating this festival. A pot hiding money, curd and other ingredients are hanged at a difficult height from reach which makes it difficult for the Human Pyramid participants to reach it and break it.
Lord Krishna is the protagonist in this event and is represented by a kid who breaks the pot at the top. He is called Makhan Chor, the name given to Lord Krishna by his neighbours and his mother, Yashoda maa. The participants in the human pyramid is called Govinda, another name for Lord Krishna. This festival is mostly popular in the state of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. The participants form pyramid consisting usually below 9-tiers and give 3 attempt to break the pot. Many political parties get active in organizing such events for the celebration of dahi handi with a prize money for the winner. Every year, the amount of prize gets increased gradually. Many teams participate to win these prizes and add a feather to their group’s hat. Many Bollywood Actors and Actresses take part in this event to promote the participation.