Shillong: At the stroke of midnight last night, a group of activists in Meghalaya ushered in the New Year by plunging into an ice-filled swimming pool braving sub-zero temperature, with a prayer on their lips for world peace and order, and determination to face life's challenges.
As the rest of the country welcomed 2015 with revelry, 25 bravehearts heralded the new year by taking a ritualistic midnight dip at the Crinoline swimming pool here at sub-zero temperature, an activist said.
Led by former influential student activist, and convener of the Mait Shaphrang Movement (MSM), Michael Syiem, the activists have been routinely undertaking the dip for 18 years in a row.
To make things even chillier, seventy ice-blocks weighing 50 kgs each were lobbed into the pool even as the mercury was nearing freezing point, Syiem said.
For 65-year-old Disil Nongrum, the plunge at the pool was to welcome the New Year from the very first second with a prayer to God for strength and wisdom to face the challenges of life.
"Nowadays celebrations mean drinking and frolicking. But this swimming is a different and sober kind of celebration, which has more to do with determination and strengthening of the inner self to face the challenges of life," Michael Syiem said, adding, such an act would help the participants to take firm resolves for their endeavor throughout the new year.
A similar custom of midnight swim to welcome the New Year is also prevalent in Argentina and some parts of Russia, Syiem said.
Apart from this, Meghalaya welcomed the New Year in style with parties in hotels and private places, by the fireside at home and the government sponsored midnight party at Khyndailad junction.
Outgoing Governor K K Paul and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma extended season's greetings to the people of the state.