NEW DELHI - India’s top court on Wednesday banned children from taking part in a popular but potentially dangerous religious festival in the country’s west that sees young boys scale human pyramids. The Supreme Court barred children aged under 18 from scaling the pyramids and restricted their height to six metres (20 feet) following a string of accidents in recent years. The ruling comes ahead of the annual Dahi Handi festival in Maharashtra state next week that traditionally sees scores of boys hoisted to the top of wobbly pyramids in homage to Hindu child-god Krishna. Crowds flock to the colourful spectacle in the state capital Mumbai where groups try to outperform each other with the highest pyramid, some reaching 13 metres. But the practice has also seen many injuries when pyramids collapse, while a 14-year-old boy reportedly died after falling during rehearsals in 2014.
“Krishna didn’t do acrobatics ... you cannot risk the lives of children,” Justice Nageswara Rao told the court in New Delhi.
The ruling followed a petition from a Mumbai social worker who stressed the dangers of the tradition that sees the boys smash jugs of buttermilk once they reach the top.
The High Court in 2014 also placed restrictions on the pyramids, touching off a lengthy legal tussle by the Maharashtra government, some of whose lawmakers opposed the ruling.