More and more political parties are joining the dahi handi celebrations. And the spoils are also getting higher and higher, Though the prize money offered by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jeetendra Awhad, at Rs1.11 crore, tops the list, other parties don’t want to be seen wanting.
Sachin Ahir’s NGO, Sankalp, which organises a dahi handi in Jambooree Maidan at Worli, has raised its prize money from Rs60 lakh last year to approximately Rs1 crore this year. Ahir also belong to the NCP.
The Shiv Sena did try to match the famous Thane-based dahi handi of Awhad.
In fact, it was for the first time a Sena leader was announcing a prize money of Rs1 crore.
Ajay Dadgujar, the Sena leader from Sion, offered this amount for the tallest dahi handi in the Bandra Kurla Complex in the memory of late Sena leader Bal Thackeray.
However, Dadgujar backed out of the festival within a few days. Though the prize money was lesser than Awhad’s Rs1.11 crore Dadgujar tried to make it up with other gifts like cars, fridges, motor bikes etc.
Explaining the hike in Sankalp’s prize money, Sangeeta Ahir, chairperson, says, “The prize money has increased as there is greater participation and the Govindas are building pyramids in a professional way”.
This year, around 25 mandals are expected to form the nine-layer pyramids, Ahir said.
“For eight-tier pyramids, we give cash prize of Rs31,000; for nine-tier ones, it is Rs51,000,” said Ahir.
Bollywood stars are expected to add to the glitz. At Sankalp, Shah Rukh Khan is expected to show up, celebrating his Chennai Express success with the crowd.
Krishna Hegde, one of the only Congress MLAs to have started dahi handi celebrations this year, will get the directors of Chennai Express, among other film personalities, to Vile Parle.
“I will be giving prize money of Rs11 lakh to those forming pyramids,” he said. Up next is the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Girish Dhanurkar, MNS corporator from Dadar, said the party has doubled the prize money from last year.
When asked about the large among of money parties are putting into the festival, Hegde said, “If I can combine a message with the celebrations, I do not see anything wrong.”