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All about Dahi Handi, the popular Janmashtami tradition

This year, the Dahi Handi festival was celebrated on 7 September.

Representative Image / Image - Pixabay

Krishna Janmashtami, a Hindu festival celebrated with grandeur across the nation, commemorates the birth of Lord Krishna, revered as the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Amidst the various customs and traditions observed during this festival, the Dahi Handi festival, alternatively known as Gopalakala or Utlotsavam, occupies a prominent place.

This festival is marked by exuberant celebrations and is eagerly anticipated and enthusiastically celebrated each year. Dahi refers to curd, and Handi refers to an earthen pot filled with milk products. This event enjoys popularity in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa. This year, the Dahi Handi festival was celebrated on 7 September.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna had a strong liking for curd and butter since childhood. As he grew older, he became mischievous, and would often steal these dairy products from neighbours and villagers, earning him the name of Makkan chor (butter thief).

To curb his antics, Krishna’s mother, Yashoda, had the villagers hide their freshly churned curd and butter in hanging earthen pots, keeping them out of Krishna's reach. However, Lord Krishna’s friends created a human pyramid to help him reach the earthen pots to steal the butter.

Janmashtami 2023: Dahi Handi and Krishna, What’s The Connect?Representative Image. Credits: unsplash

The infamous Dahi Handi festival, honors the same tradition. Devotees suspend a pot filled with milk, curd, butter, and various dairy products high above the ground, often on multiple floors and then form a human pyramid to reach and break the pot. The person on top of the human pyramid is referred to as Govinda (Krishna).

In a playful reenactment, women, symbolizing the female companions of Lord Krishna from his neighbourhood, splash water and slippery substances at the human pyramid to make the task more challenging. The activity culminates after the pot is broken without anyone losing balance.

In India, the event is widely celebrated across Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa. Over the years, the event has attracted huge crowds due to the presence of several celebrities and politicians who donate hefty prize money to the winners of the ceremony.

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