Shillong revellers welcome New Year with icy dip

Shillong, Jan 1: At the stroke of midnight, a group of revellers in this state capital of Meghalaya welcomed the New Year by plunging into the icy water of a swimming pool.

Although this time the New Year’s celebration was similar to previous years, however, a group of 28 revellers decided to make it more interesting by placing 50 ice-blocks, each weighing 50 kg, in the Crinoline swimming pool before taking a dip.

“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, the man behind the midnight dip.

For 16 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, but I am fresh and my body is getting warmer,” said 64-year-old Disil Nongrum while emerging from the water.

Nine-year-old Jayden Kharbyngar, who took the plunge in the icy-cold water for the first time, said: “Every day is a challenging day and every year is a challenging year therefore, this midnight dip is also a challenging one, but a successful one for me.”

That apart, cheers erupted in the streets of Shillong and other smaller towns of the state as revellers greeted one another at the stroke of the midnight to welcome 2013.

IANS