Kolkata welcomes New Year with picnics and prayers


Kolkata: Hundreds of Kolkatans thronged various tourist spots, churches and crowded the popular Dakshineswar Temple to usher in 2011 on a note of merriment Saturday.

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Tourism hot-spots like the Alipore Zoo and the Victoria Memorial saw big turnouts, while people cutting across religious barriers queued up at the St. Paul’s Cathedral and Dakshineswar Temple.

The St. Paul’s Cathedral and St. John’s Church were beautifully decorated as people held special prayers and lit candles there.

Massive crowds of people from across all over the country were spotted since dawn at the age-old Kali Temple at Dakshineswar for Kalpataru Utsav, which is celebrated on this day every year in memory of spiritual guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.

“Every year I come to attend Kalpataru festival along with my family to seek blessings for a prosperous new year,” said Ayan Mukherjee, who is a engineer by profession.

It is believed that Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa had gone into a trance Jan 1, 1886, and granted enlightenment to his disciples.

Kids had a lot of fun watching animals and the migratory birds from Siberia at the Alipore Zoo. Three leopards, which were added last week to replenish the falling stock of the big cat species at the zoo, drew large crowds.

“I loved watching tigers, elephants and birds. But monkeys were the best. Every year, I visit the zoo along with my father,” said Soumajit Chatterjee, a Class 4 student.

A large number of people sought to spend the day away from the din of the city and accompanied their families and friends to the world’s largest mangrove covering Sunderbans and the sea resort of Digha in East Midnapore district.

The city rung in the New Year in style at midnight with the upmarket Park Street – all decked up with lights – drawing revellers in thousands. The lip-smacking delights offered by the posh restaurants in the fine dining hub were a big hit.

Youngsters had a great time at various discos and nightclubs across the city, which had specially arranged dancers from across the world, DJ-theme parties, vintage wine and champagne to embrace the New Year on a high note.

Of course, many people chose to stay at home and celebrate with their near and dear ones.

“On 1st January every year, I along with my family and friends have a get together at our home,” said Papiya Adhikary, a school teacher.