People of Maharashtra and Goa celebrate Dahi Handi, which is a very popular playful celebration. Also known as Gopalakala, it is celebrated on the next day of Krishna Janmashtami. Krishna Janmashtami is popularly known as Gokulashtami. ‘Dahi’ means ‘curd’ and ‘Handi’ refers to the earthen pot used to process and keep the milk products.
The celebration of Dahi Handi commemorates the childhood days of Lord Krishna. Young Krishna, in His childhood, was very fond of curd and butter. As he grew up his fondness to curd and butter also increased and young Krishna used to steal them.
The young Krishna and His friends used to steal milk products from neighborhood homes. So the women in the neighborhood families became more watchful and they started hanging the earthen pots containing milk products from the ceiling. They thought that since Krishna was of short height the Dahi Handis would remain safe and out of reach of his small hands.
Young Krishna was more cunning and he developed a new technique of forming human pyramid, which was used like a ladder to climb up and get hold of the Handi. This event subsequently has become a part of Indian folklore. Every year this sportive event from the life of Lord Krishna is played during Janmashtami by troop of young boys, attracting thousands of devotees.
To make it a challenging task, the Dahi Handi is kept at several floors high and the play is performed at the open ground or street crossing. Attempts of the human pyramid to get hold of the Dahi Handi are prevented by throwing water on them, which makes the competition more thrilling. In Mumbai, Dahi Handi has developed as a competitive sport. Hundreds of teams participate in the event every year. The event is promoted with the invitation of famous celebrities. Recently, the prize money has reached as high as Rupees one crore.
The whole event has its own slogan “Govinda Aala Re!”