Meghalaya revellers greet 2014 with dip in icy water

Shillong, Jan 1 (IANS) A group of revellers here greeted the New Year by plunging into a swimming pool’s icy water at the stroke of the midnight to welcome 2014.

This time the revellers had decided to make the New Year celebration more interesting by placing 60 ice blocks, each weighing 50kg, in the Crinoline swimming pool before taking the midnight 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 event.
For 17 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 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 big challenge for me to swim in the icy pool, but I did beat it, and I am fresh and my body is getting warmer,” said 19 -year-old Jingaieiei Bajanai Marbaniang one among the two women, who participated in the midnight dip event.
The midnight dip also attracted tourists from other states to witness swimming in between the ice-blocks.
“I am amazed to see young and old men and women swimming in that pool filled with those blocks – a big challenge,” said Rahul Kapadia, who came all the way from Mumbai to see the midnight swim.
He added: “It is also an attraction for us, and the government must promote this event.”
Meghalaya Governor K.K. Paul wished the people of the state happiness and well-being in the New Year.
“I sincerely 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, said, “New Year is the time to make a fresh beginning by reflecting upon the year gone and to strive for achieving new goals.”