By Express News Service

MUMBAI: In view of the pandemic and fear of the third Covid 19 wave, Mumbai’s iconic Dahi Handi celebration will not take place this year.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had called the meeting with Govind Pathaks that erect the human pyramid during Dahi Handi — to mark the birth of Lord Krishna celebration where he urged not to celebrate Dahi Handi, but focus on creating health awareness amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

Thackeray said pandemic has forced various restrictions on the daily life of people. He urged Govind Pathaks to take welfare initiatives instead of observing the festivities and becoming vulnerable to the virus.

BJP opposed the move of the Maharashtra government banning the Dahi Handi celebration.  BJP leader Ashish Shelar said, this is the Taliban mentality of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, they are allowing hotels, bar and wine shops, but the not the Hindu festivals.

He said those who have taken both doses of COVID-19 vaccines should be allowed to organise the traditional Dahi Handi at low heights without crowding. The festival should not be banned,” BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said.

Maharashtra Covid-19 task force chief Dr Sanjay Oak who was also present in this virtual meeting said physical distancing cannot be maintained during Dahi Handi celebrations as people come in very close contact with each other while forming human pyramids.

He said face masks are of no use if they get wet in water during making a human pyramid.  “The Delta plus variant is spreading fast in various parts of the state. Even if one person gets infected, the entire group runs the risk of catching the COVID-19 infection. The Govind Pathaks — organisers should keep the festive spirit up by organising camps to donate blood and COVID-19 treatment equipment,” Dr Oak added.

Thackeray said the second wave of the pandemic was receding in some districts of Maharashtra, but peaking in some other places. “This is a window period which we have to utilise to ensure that the livelihood of people is not impacted and the economic cycle continues. In many parts of the state, we are getting the fresh Covid 19 cases in large numbers,” he added.

Thackeray said that a lockdown will have to be imposed again if the daily demand for medical oxygen crosses 750 metric tonnes in Maharashtra. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray also said the entire the world is reeling under the pandemic which has destroyed many families and orphaned children.