Over 60 people were injured in mishaps across the city during dahi handi celebrations on Saturday, even as festivities remained subdued in wake of the floods in most parts of the State.
The dahi handi ritual, an integral part of Janmashtami celebrations in the State, sees youngsters (govindas) dressed in colourful attire make a human pyramid to reach and break an earthen pot full of buttermilk suspended in the air.
The festival has for years been shrouded in concern over safety of the govindas, who form the pyramids that go as high as eight to nine tiers, and scores of them sustain injuries after falling from heights every year. Several of them were admitted and treated at various municipal hospitals in the city throughout the day on Saturday.
The most serious injury was recorded by KEM Hospital, where a Lalbaug resident Sunil Sawant (41) was admitted after he suffered severe injuries to his spinal cord. Mr. Sawant, member of the Shree Sai Devsthan Govinda Pathak, suffered Traumatic Quadriplegia (paralysis) after his fall.
In another incident, Worli resident Aniket Sutar (21), a member of the Uday Krida Mandal, who sustained severe injuries in his left leg, was also rushed to KEM. His father, Sudhir, said, “Aniket works as an employee in a private firm. He was taking part in dahi handi for the first time.”
Meanwhile, Shubham Sonawane (21), a Dharavi resident, was taken to the Sion Hospital, after he suffered minor leg and chin injuries after falling from an eight-tier pyramid.
“We were told to participate in maximum number of dahi handis so that we could donate all the money to flood-affected regions of Kolhapur and Sangli,” Mr. Sonawane, who has been an active participant for the last couple of years, said.
Dr. Anil More from the Sion Hospital said five govindas were admitted, of whom four were minors, who suffered small injuries.
Despite the government banning participation of children below the age of 14, many took part in the festivities and were reported hurt. Roopam Devashi (10) was taken to the hospital after suffering injuries to her hand, while 12-year-old Vignesh Katkar was admitted at KEM Hospital after sustaining injuries on his head.
Bharat Tiwari, a security officer at the KEM Hospital, said, “The number of casualties have reduced as compared to last year. We have had 21 cases as of 5 p.m., while last year, we had 100 cases by 6 p.m.”