Covid scare dampens yet another Hindu festival. ‘Dahi Handi’ celebrations have been called off in Maharashtra following an appeal by Chief Minister Thackeray. The festival was slated for August 30 this year.
State Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a virtual meeting with the Dahi Handi mandals said, “Let the world get the message that Maharashtra prioritized saving people’s lives.” Ironically, the statement comes at a time when the state has witnessed over 1,35,000 deaths due to Covid-19, multiple due to government negligence.
“Let us keep our celebrations and our festivities aside for a few days. Let us show some patience and make health our priority. We have been facing restrictions for the last year and a half because we have been fighting Covid-19,” the CM added further.
Sharing his concerns about a predicted third-wave, Thackeray said that while the festival is of children, one must not forget the ones who lost their parents due to the pandemic.
Thackeray during the meeting threatened of yet another lockdown. “If the oxygen demand for COVID patients goes above 750 MT, then we will be left with no option but to implement lockdown yet again,” claimed Thackeray.
Speaking in favor of the call to cancel the festivities, Maharashtra Covid-19 task force chief Dr Sanjay Oak said, “This festival cannot be celebrated without people coming in close proximity to each other. Human pyramids are formed. It is monsoon at present plus the festival involves water. Water diminishes the effectiveness of masks.”
“At this point, delta plus variant, which has been spreading fast, is also a concern,” Oak added.
Early this month, the Dahi Handi mandals had written to the state government, seeking permission to celebrate the festival as per Covid-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has demanded that the government must give permission to conduct the festival with strict guidelines. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar asserted, “Low height handis with minimum crowd and only those with two doses of vaccine should be allowed. This is our demand. The Sena is neglecting it, but we will continue to push for it.”