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जन्माष्टमी (pron: janmaashTami) is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of the deity Sri Krishn. It normally occurs in August. In Maharashtra it is celebrated with human pyramids that reach out to a haanDi (earthen pot) filled with dahi (curd/ yoghurt).

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Dahi Handi

During the song Govinda Aala Re from the film Bluffmaster (1963) Shammi Kapoor climbs to the top of the human pyramid and tries to pluck currency notes with his mouth, as is the custom in some parts because with his hands he is hanging on for dear life.
Mumbai: Dahi handi human pyramids in 2016 went against the spirit of the SC order.

In Hindi-Urdu cinema

Dahi Handi: Bollywood films interesting plots around the festival, The Times of India, August 27, 2015

Dahi Handi: Bollywood films interesting plots around the festival

Indian festivals are given importance in our Bollywood movies. However, there are a few such festivals which hold a different place in Bollywood. Festivals like Ganesh Utsav, Dahi Handi, Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, Dusshera are a few that helps to enhance the impact of a scene. Like Dusshera conveys a message of victory over evil, Diwali is festival of lights, Ganesh Utvas harps on the positivity of God, Dahi Handi too holds importance in movies. Let's take a look at a few movies which had highlighted Dahi Handi in their seqeunces.

Agneepath: Lead's grand entry

The Amitabh Bachchan starrer movie Agneepath was remade by Karan Johar in which Hrithik Roshan played the lead role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan. In the movie Hrithik Roshan's character Vijay made a grand entry displaying his chiseled physique and sharp looks during a Dahi Handi sequence. His face was revealed only after he broke the Dahi Handi. The sequence showed a gist of the character, Vijay, who is loved by all, is popular and owns power as he breaks the 'matki'. Hrithik did justice to the entry with his power house performance.

Vaastav: Celebration time

The story of Mahesh Manjrekar's cult movie Vaastav moves hearts of millions even today with its gripping and heart wrenching storyline. Dahi Handi festival was used in the movie in order to show how festivals are celebrated in chawls. It is showed how a youngster, Raghu (character played by Sanjay Dutt) along with his gang of friends collects fund to celebrate the festival. The sequence actually reminded majority of Mumbaikars about their own Dahi Handi celebrations. The sequence was shot in the way it was in order to make sure that the audience could identify themselves as one from the crowd reveling during the festival.

Shaitaan: The chase

In the movie Shaitaan, a Dahi Handi song and a sequnce is used very cleverly. In the video of the song, we can see a Inspector Arvind Mathur (Rajeev Khandelwal) chasing Inspector Malvankar (Rajkumar Rao), a suspect, in the middle of the Dahi Handi celebration and the dahi handi song is played in the backdrop. Interestingly, the song's lyrics 'Pintya gela lamb...' relates the screenplay of the song as Inspector Malvankar's pet name in the movie is Pintya. The song is exactly what the scene is and accordingly, inspector Malvankar meets with an accident and the chase ends as the song culminates. The song is sung by a Marathi folk singer Chandan Shive.

Oh My God: The reality check

Paresh Rawal starrer Oh My God has a very interesting concept. The movie where a shopkeeper takes God to court when his shop is destroyed by an earthquake is well received by the audience. In this movie, the Dahi Handi festival stands of high importance, it is the time when Kanjibhai (Character played by Paresh Rawal) challenges god and shows distrust in him and claims that Dahi Handi festival and the expenses incurred behind it are of waste and one should stop celebrating such festivals. He also explains how youngsters endanger their life in order to break the handi and get the prize money. Sonakshi Sinha and Prabhudheva did a special song , Go go go Govinda for this seqeunce.

Aankhen: The master plan

In Amitabh Bachchan starrer movie Aankhen, the idea of robbing a bank by blind people comes in his mind only after watching a few blind students of a school breaking dahi handi during this festival. After watching them he understands that blind people can be trained to do things like sighted people and that is when he employs three blind men – Vishwas (Kumar), a blind person who has the power of the sixth sense, Ilyaas (Rawal) and Arjun (Rampal) to loot a bank.

Dahi handis' deadly accidents

2016: 2 children seriously injured, 159 govindas injured

Aug 26 2016 : The Times of India (Delhi) 2 kids, 12 & 9, battle for life as dahi handis defy SC

Not only dahi handis, law too was broken in 2016 . Many mandals flouted the Supreme Court's curbs on height of human pyramids and participation of minors. Though Janmashtami celebrations in Mumbai were relatively lowkey, Thane, a hotbed of politically backed handi events, presented a sharp contrast, with multiple violations of the 20-foot limit on height and inclusion of children in human pyramids as set by the apex court.

Two children battled for life after suffering serious head injuries. Both fell from the sixth tier of a pyramid. Besides, 159 govindas were injured and rushed to hospitals with cuts and bruises. A few of them also suffered fractures.

While organisers from NCP and Shiv Sena lay low, it was MNS that made a desperate attempt to gain political ground ahead of the BMC elections. Mumbai's Jai Jawan Mandal specially travelled to Thane to break the law. There its boys formed a pyramid that went all the way up to 42 feet, a little shy of the 43.79-ft feat which had once earned it a mention in the Guinness Book of Records.

Sixteen mandals, including Jai Jawan Mandal and Shiv Sai Mandal, were booked by Thane police for violating SC orders. An MNS functionary too was booked.

Ban on participation of children

The Times of India, April 12, 2016

Apex court refuses to interfere with Bombay HC order on dahi handi

The Supreme Court refused to interfere with a Bombay high court order restricting the height of the dahi handi and banning participation of children in breaking the handi (pot) during Janmashtami festival, forcing BJP MLA Ashish Shelar to withdraw his petition.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit told Shelar, “You carry on with the dahi handi celebrations. But do no use children in the formation of human pyramids. There is no religious significance attached to making children climb to the top of the pyramid and endangering their ives.“ The court's comment forced Shelar's counsel to withdraw his petition. The Bombay HC had last month sought reply from the Maharashtra government and Shelar on a petition alleging that height restrictions imposed on dahi handi were not complied with. The state-appointed committee, headed by Shelar, was formed to submit recommendations on the issue, keeping in mind strictures passed by courts. In August 2014, the SC had said no child below the age of 12 years would be permitted to participate in forming human pyramids during the popular dahi handi celebrations.

SC bars minors from dahi handi events

The Times of India, Aug 18 2016  Refusing to heed the con tention that the tradition of Lord Krishna stealing butter as a young teenager inspires the “dahi-handi“ custom, the Supreme Court said that no one below 18 years of age can take part in human pyramids formed to celebrate Janmashtami, reports Amit Anand Choudhary. The SC revived a Bombay HC order placing an age restriction on participants to prevent possible injury to children, and a bench of Justices A R Dave and Nageswara Rao also set the height of the human pyramid at 20 feet.

2017/ Children below 14 not allowed; no curbs on height: HC

Rosy Sequeira | HC bars kids below 14 from `dahi handi' | Aug 08 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Children below 14 will not be allowed to participate in dahi handi, but there will be no curbs on the height of human pyramids formed to break the pots.

The Bombay HC declined to place restrictions on the age of Govindas.But it accepted the state gov ernment's statement that kids below 14 will not be allowed to participate. The court said it is for the state to enact laws in that respect. “... it would fall within the exclusive domain of the legislature,“ said a bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Makarand Karnik.


Maharashtra: Norms for ‘handi' human pyramids

The Times of India, August 4, 2016

Amit Anand Chaudhary

Maha seeks `dahihandi' clarification

C an people below 18 years of age participate in forming human pyramids during `dahihandi' ritual on Janmasthami and can the height of the pyramid be over 20 feet? The Maharashtra government approached the apex court on Wednesday, seeking clarification on an earlier order. The SC had in an interim order in 2014 stayed a Bombay high court order, which had held that devotees below 18 couldn't take part in `dahihandi' and had capped the height of the pyramid at 20 feet. Confusion, however, arose as the SC did not set aside the high court order, giving an impression that its interim order was only for 2014 and the HC order was still valid.


Gujarat's gilded gambling

Golden playing cards become a Janmashtami fad in Gujarat

Manish Singh Rathore, TNN | Aug 27, 2013

The Times of India

AHMEDABAD: For many Gujaratis, Janmashtami not only offers a holiday and a time of worship but also provides an unofficial licence to gamble! Entire Gujarati families play card games like rummy and teen patti in the run up to the festival.

This year, however, the affluent have started flashing gold and silver-plated cards. Some of them are even playing the game with cards made of pure silver!

Gold or silver playing cards are a common sight in places like Las Vegas but the trend is catching up in Gujarat, say jewellers who are doing a brisk business.

"In the last few days, over 2,000 packs of gold and silver playing cards have been sold in Ahmedabad. The price ranges from Rs 1,000 to Rs 15,000 per pack. The demand for such playing cards is high ahead of Janmashtami," said Nayan Bhagat, who deals in wholesale of gold and silver playing cards. While most of these cards are imported from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, there are firms that manufacture it locally.

"I have supplied golden and silver card packs to a number of local jewellers. Apart from this, we are witnessing a high demand online as well," added Bhagat. Usually, such cards are used when the bets are higher than Rs 100,000.

Shanti Patel, president of Ahmedabad Jewellers Association, says that apart from Janmashtami, many people buy silver and gold cards for adding to their collection and gifting also.


From Hindi-Urdu cinema

10 Most popular Janmashtami songs The Times of India TNN | August 18, 2014

Bada Natkhat Hai Ye – Amar Prem: This song from the 1972 Hindi drama is one of the most popular Krishna Yashoda numbers ever. The song sung by Lata Mangeshkar is still called a 'classic'. RD Burman had a different tune for this song but when his father SD Burman intervened the tune was changed. RD Burman used to remember this song as his 'best music lesson' ever.

Go Go Go Govinda- OMG Oh My God- This song composed by Himesh Reshammiya is a high voltage song. The song featuring Sonakshi and Prabhudheva is a festive number. Sonakshi's dance in the song caught attention as soon as the song released. Though the song is not original it has a festive and dhamakedaar touch. This song is a total riot.

Radha On The Dance Floor- Student of the Year: Radha on the dance floor is one of the coolest radha krishna song ever. This Radha Krishna song is a new age party track that is sure to make you want to groove. The song created a rage within few days of its release. Shreya Goshal and Udit Narayan juggle well between fast tracks to desi beats. This radha song truly rocks!

Govinda Aala Re - Govinda: This superhit song is from the movie Bluffmaster which was released in 1963. Shammi Kapoor starrer this song is one of the best Janmashtami songs ever. Kalyanji Anandji gave the music of this song. This is a very energetic number that makes you want to groove along with Shammi Kapoor.

Chandi Ki Daal Pe- Hello Brother: This song marks Salman Khan's debut in the music industry. Chandi ki daal par is a fast paced song with comical lyrics. The number is upbeat and catchy. Salman's voice gives the song that extra edge. Salman Khan fans must play this song on Janmashtami.

Vo Kisna Hai - Kisna: Kisna may not have been a blockbuster, but this song definitely was a blockbuster. This song featuring Vivek Oeroi and Isha topped charts soon after its release. A perfect fusion of classical and folk, this song has a divine touch. Udit Narayan and Madhushree take the song to an alltogether different level of melody. A powerful Radha Krishna song that must be played on Janmashtami.

Radha Kaise Na Jale - Lagaan: Radha Kaise Na Jale is undoubtedly one of the best Radha Krishna songs ever. The song has a slight classical touch along with folk tunes which holds the song beautifully. Udit Narayan and Asha Bhosle create magic with their melodious voice. Gracy Singh and Aamir Khan make this song look even more beautiful on screen. This is a very soft and soothing number which much be played on Janmashtami.

Maiya Yashoda Ye Tere Kanhaiya - Hum Saath Saath Hain: Maiya Yashoda Ye Tere Kanhaiya from Hum Saath Saath Hain is a very popular song on Lord Krishna. The song has been sung by stalwarts of music industry - Kavita Krishnamurthy, Anuradha Paudwal and Alka Yagnik. On screen this song is a visual treat. Maiya Yashoda song celebrates naughtiness of Krishna and Radha's love for him. Truly a melodious song.

Yashomati Maiyya Se - Satyam Shivam Sundaram: This song from Satyam Shivam Sundaram is one of the most popular songs of Janmashtami. Little Padmini Kolhapure pays her tribute to Krishna with this adorbale act in the movie. This devotional song has been sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Laxmikant-Pyarelal's music won the Filmfare Best Music Director Award. Truly a song we must play on Janmashtami.

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