Low key New Year’s Eve, Delhiites throng religious places

January 1st, 2009 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 1 (IANS) The party scene in the capital on New Year’s Eve was subdued this time, except for gatherings at home with friends and family. In complete contrast, people flocked to religious places Thursday, praying for safe and prosperous days in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack and recession.Even as thick fog enveloped the capital till mid day, the road leading to the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in central Delhi was choc-a-bloc with cars and other vehicles.

People thronged the gurdwara - some walking bare feet despite the chill and others taking off their shoes at the entrance - but all with the same purpose, to seek blessings for a happy and prosperous year ahead.

Ravleen Kaur was one of the many who came with her family. “Visiting the gurdwara on the first day of the year is a ritual for us. Celebrations are fine in their own place, but what is more important are prayers and blessings for a fulfilling year ahead,” she said.

“My sister just had her first baby and she was determined to bring her here, despite the cold, to seek blessings for the little daughter,” Kaur, dressed in a salwar and her head covered, told IANS outside the gurdwara.

Giving alms to scores of beggars queuing up outside, Akhil Dev, a college student, said: “I partied with my friends last night, but the first thing that I did this morning was to come here.

“It’s not just prayers for a successful year ahead that brings me here. It’s that serene feeling washing over you when you sit at the steps of the pond in the gurdwara’s premises that helps you clear your head and start the year with renewed determination - that is what pulls you to come here.”

At the nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral, similarly, people came in hordes to light candles and start the new year with a silent prayer.

“I just hope this year is peaceful. We don’t want any blasts, any communal violence. Peace is all that I prayed for,” said Rebecca Smith, a homemaker who came to the church with her daughter.

2008 had seen violence against Christians in Orissa and Karnataka.

Harshita Jain, a student who came to the church with her friends, said: “I went to a friend’s place for the New Year party last night and by the end of it we were all saying the same thing - how the party scene in general was so low key.

“There were fewer firecrackers lighting up the skies at midnight and the music in many clubs didn’t thump through the night, some of my friends said.

“But the crowds in religious places is overwhelming. It just shows that unlike last year, people desperately want this year to be peaceful and without any bad news. It’s a sombre beginning this year,” she said.

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