Shillong, Jan 1 (IANS): At the stroke of midnight, a group of revellers welcomed the New Year in this mountainous state capital of Meghalaya by plunging into icy water at Crinoline swimming pool.
Although this time the New Year's celebration was similar to previous years, however, a group of 23 revellers decided to use the day differently by placing 40 ice-blocks, each weighing 50 kg, in the pool.
"Plunging into the pool is to welcome the New Year right from the very first second with a prayer to God to give us strength to face the challenges of life," said Michael Syiem, 54, the man behind the midnight dip.
For 15 consecutive years now, Syiem, the chief of Forever Young Sports Club, has been organising the midnight swim in Shillong.
Participants were not allowed to take any kind of intoxicants ahead of participating in 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 with our challenges of life," Syiem told IANS. "It was a biting cold (before plunging into the icy pool), but I am fresh and my body is getting warmer," said 57-year-old William Marbaniang while emerging from the icy-cold water.
Sixteen-year-old Rudy Kharshandi, who has taken a plunge for five consecutive years, said: "Every day is a challenging day and every year is a challenging therefore, this midnight dip is also a challenging one, but a successful one for me."
Kharshandi's younger brother Henry Kharshandi,12, who also took the plunge in the icy pool, said, "It is a new beginning for me and I hope 2012 will be the year of conviction and determination to achieve my goals." The event's oldest participant Disil Nongrum aged 63.
That apart, Cheers erupted in the streets of Shillong and other smaller towns as revellers greeted one another at the stroke of the midnight.
Conveying his greetings to the people of the state, Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary wished the people happiness and well-being throughout the New Year. "The New Year will bring greater harmony among the people in Meghalaya and peace and tranquillity will prevail to take us forward in the path of progress and prosperity," said Mooshahary.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, extending his New Year greetings to the people, said, "Let the New Year unfold a dawn of sustained love and peace in our land."