‘Keeping festivals aside, focus on health’: Maharashtra CM to Dahi Handi organisers

Addressing the virtual meeting of the organisers, the CM said the health of citizens should be given priority during a pandemic.

On Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told organisers of the forthcoming Dahi Handi festival that the state should set a precedent by keeping aside celebration of festivals for some time to curtail the coronavirus completely.

Addressing the virtual meeting of the organisers, the CM said the health of citizens should be given priority during a pandemic. Dahi Handi festival thoroughly enjoys a political patronisation in Maharashtra with multiple parties organising Dahi Handi rituals and proclaiming a reward for Govindas, who reaches and break the pots.

An official statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said Dahi Handi organisers responded positively to Thackeray’s appeal and spoke about holding social and health-related activities to mark the birth of Lord Krishna.

however, BJP wants the Dahi Handi festival to be permitted to be conducted about certain conditions traditionally. “Those who have taken both doses of COVID-19 vaccines must be allowed to organise the traditional Dahi Handi at low heights without crowding. The festival should not be banned,” BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said.

At the meeting, Thackeray said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced various restrictions on the daily life of people. “These restrictions are for the welfare of people. Only a few people speak of protesting against these curbs. They should rather protest against coronavirus and not against the government,” he said.

The chief minister further said the entire world is reeling under the pandemic which has destroyed many families and orphaned children. “Countries which have vaccinated most of their citizens are feeling the heat of a third wave of the pandemic and are locked down again,” he said.

Thackeray added the second wave of the pandemic is receding in some districts in Maharashtra but it is peaking in some other places. “This is a window period which we have to utilize to ensure that the livelihood of people is not impacted and the economic cycle continued,” he said. Thackeray asserted that a lockdown will have to be imposed again if the daily demand for medical oxygen crosses 750 metric tonnes in Maharashtra.

State COVID-19 task force chief Dr Sanjay Oak, during the meet said physical distancing cannot be maintained during Dahi Handi celebrations as people come in close contact with each other while forming human pyramids. “Face masks are of no use if they get wet in water. The Delta plus variant is spreading fast. Even if one person is infected, the entire group runs the risk of catching the COVID-19 infection,” he said.

He appealed to the organisers to keep the festive spirit on by organising blood donation camps and COVID-19 treatment equipment.

Source Business Standard
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