Reprising the Dahi-Handi Adventure
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Aug 21, BRAMPTON, ONTARIO (SOUTH ASIAN FOCUS) The Dahi-Handi tradition of Maharashtra re-enacts Lord Krishna's childhood pranks, wherein Krishna and his young friends help themselves to butter and other goodies in the houses of their neighbours. Clay pots called 'Dahi-Handi', filled with yogurt and butter, are suspended high above the ground.
In the cities of Mumbai and Pune in particular, Dahi Handi is celebrated with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. The handi is a clay pot suspended high above the ground, containing prizes along with dahi (yogurt). These are set up locally in almost every nook and corner of the cities, and groups of youngsters, called Govinda Pathaks (Troupes of Lord Krishna) travel around in trucks trying to break as many handis as possible during the day.
To the constant chorus of "Govinda, Govinda" from all those present, the teams of young men form human pyramids that reach up to the pot and break it to get at the prize within, to the merriment of the youths and of the assembly.
Many such Govinda Pathaks compete with each other, especially for the handis that dole out hefty rewards. Some of the most famous handis in Mumbai are at Dadar, Mazgaon, Lalbaug and some in Thane, a neighbouring district of Mumbai, and Babu Genu, Mandai in Pune.
Lord Krishna is variously claimed to have been depicted in several other religions, including Jainism, Buddhism, the Bahais and the Ahmadiyyas, among other faiths. Krishna is depicted playing the flute in several Far Eastern Buddhist cultures, including Japan.
Vaishnava theology has been the subject of study for many devotees, philosophers and scholars within India for centuries. In recent decades this study, called Krishnology, has also been taken on by a number of academic institutions in Europe and the Americas.