My Gregorian birthday happened to fall on the same day as Dahi Handi, Lord Krishna’s birthday!
People had told me that I should stay in my apartment on this day. And I’m really glad I didn’t because I got to see this:
The night before, people hang handis (pots) of buttermilk on ropes between buildings and trees. Legend has it that Krishna had been playful as a child, stealing butter and curds from others. So basically what happens today is that teams who have been training to build human pyramids go around Mumbai searching for these handis. When they find one they try (usually two or three times) to build a pyramid that reaches the pot. Once the pyramid is erected, a small boy (around 5 years old) climbs on top of everyone, reaches for the pot, cracks it open and spills it all over everyone in the pyramid- symbolizing unity in accomplishing the task. Then they start dismantling the pyramid with care for about 10 seconds and then they fall all over each other, erupting in Bollywood dancing and music.
While there were many informal groups going around making small pyramids, there are formal competitions where teams who reach the highest hung handis receive a prize.
I watched ALL day. Every time I thought of leaving I saw a new team and had to see if they would make it.
Unfortunately, I learned that one person died this year and over 200 people were injured.