Mumbai: The birth of Lord Krishna was rung in with religious fervour and gaiety in Maharashtra and it was followed Monday by colourful 'dahi handi' celebrations which saw enthusiastic participation by youngsters in Mumbai and other parts of the state.
The dahi handi ritual is part of the Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra, where youngsters (called Govindas), dressed in colourful attire, make human pyramid to reach an earthen pot containing buttermilk and suspended in mid-air, and break it.
Religious institutions, political leaders and Govinda mandals took part in the dahi handi celebrations which were marked by frequent chants of "Govinda aala re" (Govinda has come).
Several organisers roped in celebrities to pull the crowd in their dahi handi events.
The celebrations began amid strict vigil by personnel from the Mumbai police who were out on roads to ensure compliance of the Bombay High Court's guidelines on the age of participating Govindas (they should not be below 14) and insurance for them.
Maharashtra BJP leader Ram Kadam said his team organised dahi handi in suburban Ghatkopar and followed all laid down procedures.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the dahi handi celebration organised by Kadam along with minister Vinod Tawde, MLA Ashish Shelar, MP Kirit Somaiya and actor Shekhar Suman among others.
Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Surve, NCP leaders Sachin Ahir and Pratap Sarnaik, among others, also organised the popular event in different parts of the metropolis.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and megastar Amitabh Bachchan wished people on the occasion through posts on Twitter.
BJP MLA Shelar said that he visited several dahi handi celebrations in the city but before that went to meet Chirag Patekar in the Holy Family Hospital and offered him financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh.
Patekar was injured a few days ago while practising the formation of a human pyramid as part of the dahi handi celebrations.
Areas like Dadar, Worli, Wadala, Ghatkopar, Andheri, Lokhandawala, Borivali, Kandivali, Jogeshwari, Mulund and Vile Parle were hotspot of dahi handi celebrations.
Female Govindas also hit the streets in large numbers and broke dahi handis.
The ISKCON temple in suburban Juhu celebrated the birth of Lord Krishna and organised a mega event to mark the occasion. At the event, actor-turned-MP Hema Malini and actor Gracy Singh paid tribute to the lord with their classical dance performances.
The Radha Gopinath temple of the Indian Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at Girgaum in South Mumbai Sunday started its three-day-long Janmashtami celebration with fanfare and enthusiasm.
The theme of Janmashtami celebrations at the temple this year is "makhan chor" set in the backdrop of Rajasthani art, culture, murals, palace scenes and origami paper decorations made by children and devotees.
The temple management said distribution of more than 3,000 kgs of `varai halwa' as `prasad' (offering) was underway to devotees visiting the temple.
ISKCON's spiritual guru Radhanath Swami said, "The Bhagavad Gita teaches the process by which we can achieve the highest joy of Bhakti Yoga and also share it with others.
"When we celebrate Janmashtami, it should be a time when we commit and dedicate ourselves to live by the will of Lord Krishna. This is real celebration."
The Mumbai police cautioned revellers against making high human pyramids and advised Govindas to wear safety gears to avoid any injuries while falling during attempt to break pots.
"Break Dahi Handi. Not Your Head. Let your being on top of the world feeling not get shattered by unnecessary carelessness! #AwareGovindaAalaRe #WearSafetyGear," the police tweeted.
The Disaster Management Cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) remained alert to deal with any eventuality, while hospitals were asked to keep medical staff on standby. In the past, several Govindas were injured after falling off human pyramids.
Rajaram Humne, founder of the Govinda Mitra Mandal, said, "Our team members followed all guidelines laid down by the court, government and police."
Dahi handi celebrations were also reported from districts adjoining Mumbai and other parts of the state. In Nashik, about 200km from Mumbai, devotees thronged temples in large numbers to offer prayers to Lord Krishna.
A week-long religious programme has been organised at the famous Murlidhar temple in Nashik. Various social groups organised dahi handi programmes across the North Maharashtra city.
Cheques ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 25 lakh were handed over to govinda teams that managed to break the handis at various places in the city.