Shillong, Jan 1 (IANS): From a midnight dip into the icy water of a swimming pools to concerts, private parties and prayers marked the New Year celebrations in Meghalaya on Thursday.
Revellers of all ages descended on Khyndai Lad here to greet the New Year with music, lights and food.
In order to attract tourists to explore Meghalaya, the government also organised the first-ever Shillong Midnight Festival which acted as a confluence of local music, dance and food in the heart of the city.
"The Shillong Midnight Fest is planned with an aim to increase tourist potential to Meghalaya," Matsiewdor War, director of arts and culture said.
Three prominent Shillong-based rock bands -- Cubicles, Dossers Urge and Fourth Element --serenaded the crowds with their popular numbers amid the chilling breeze.
As music, lights and food entertained the people at Khyndai Lad, another group of revellers greeted the New Year by plunging into a swimming pool's icy water at the stroke of the midnight to welcome 2015.
This time the revellers had decided to make the New Year celebration more interesting by placing 70 ice blocks, each weighing 50 kgs, in the Crinoline swimming pool before taking the midnight dip.
"This is our style to welcome the New Year with a prayer to God to give us strength to face the challenges of life," said Michael Syiem, the man behind the event.
Participants were not allowed to take any kind of intoxicants ahead of the event, as the organisers felt drinking would negate the event's objective.
"Greeting New Year does not essentially mean drinking and frolicking but this celebration of ours is to strengthen ourselves through challenges of life," Syiem told IANS.
"It was a big challenge for me to swim in the icy pool, but I did beat it," said 65-year-old Disil Nongrum, who was among the 22 men who participated in the event.
The midnight dip also attracted tourists from other States.
"We have heard negative stories about Northeast, but be it Kohima, Shillong or Manipur the entire region as a whole has a lot to offer to the people in the mainland India," said Suchitra Saxena, who has been exploring the northeastern States.
Caroline Sutton, a tourist from New Zealand, who cancelled her visit to Assam's Kaziranga National Park said, "I am amazed to see the rich creativity of the people here."
Meghalaya Governor KK Paul wished the people of the State happiness and well-being in the New Year. "I wish them happiness and well-being throughout the year and hope that the New Year will bring lasting peace and harmony in the state bringing prosperity to all," said Paul.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, extending his New Year greetings to the people, saying that New Year signifies a new life and a new beginning.
"Let us begin the New Year with a renewed faith in the gracious Lord that will help us work together for peace and prosperity of our state with vigour and determination is the time to make a fresh beginning by reflecting upon the year gone and to strive for achieving new goals," he said.
Thousands throng Puri on New Year's Day: Thousands of devotees today thronged the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha to seek blessings from the lord on New Year's Day.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik with Culture and Tourism Minister Ashok Panda and other MLAs also sought the blessing from the lord.
Every year, thousands of devotees visit this temple to seek blessings from the lord for a healthy and bountiful New Year. In the view of a large gathering, the district administration and temple authority have made elaborate arrangements, erecting barricades to avoid stampede like situation.
"We have made elaborate security arrangements to avoid any untoward incident, while barricades have been erected to have smooth passage for the devotees," temple chief administrator Bikash Chandra Mohapatra said.
The district administration and city traffic police have restricted the movement of vehicles in several areas of the city.