New Delhi, Jan 1 (IANS) The death of a young Delhi woman who had been savagely raped and tortured cast a long shadow over New Year's Eve celebrations not just in the national capital but across India with subdued introspection taking over wild parties in many places.
There were those who partied of course, in homes and in pubs, but the celebrations were muted. And at the stroke of the midnight hour, there were not so many crackers heard.
Many of the party-goers were elsewhere - gathering in places like Munirka and Saket in New Delhi or Park Street in Kolkata to remember the young physiotherapy who lost the battle for life in a Singapore hospital Dec 29, 13 days after she was raped in New Delhi.
It was time to "reclaim the night", said some women who had collected in the national capital's Munirka area, from where the woman and her friend had boarded the bus the night of Dec 16 on their way back from a movie.
"Yes, we will celebrate New Year. But we also mourn for her," said a young woman in Kolkata's Park Street. The upmarket area was all spruced up for the new year but hundreds were also present with wreaths and candles.
In Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, women marched through the streets and watched a late show film.
"This is just the beginning of trying to get our space in the society. We want our space in all aspects and we felt it to have it this way to celebrate the New Year," said Jaya Geetha, a state government employee in the news last year after being harassed by a group of train ticket examiners.
There were those who partied of course, ringing in the New Year with their friends and family. In the many condominiums in Gurgaon, for instance, some took the decision to not light up the buildings and others continued with the parties. But everywhere, discussions on the young woman, unnamed and unidentified, could be heard.
While many homes decided not to light up their houses, several clubs, like Delhi's Gymkhana Club and the Chandigarh Golf Club, cancelled their celebrations. Punjabi rapper Honey Singh's show in a hotel in Gurgaon was called off too as an people protested the sexist and misogynistic lyrics of his song.
With most leading clubs and hotels cancelling their parties at the last moment to show solidarity with the outcry against the gang-rape, the scene in Chandigarh shifted to private parties.
"We were to go to the Golf Club but decided against celebrating," said Chandigarh resident Zorawar Singh.
There were no New Year parties for the armed forces and for President Pranab Mukherjee as well as Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Like them, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy also announced they would not receive any New Year greetings in person.
Similar announcements came in from Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi, who participated in a candlelight vigil in Hyderabad Monday night.
Bollywood personalities echoed the sombre mood.
A source close to the Bachchans said: "There's absolutely no appetite for celebration in the Bachchan parivar. Both Amitji and Jayaji are extremely upset by what has happened in Delhi."
Other celebrities, like the Kapoors- Rishi, Neetu and Ranbir - and the Roshans also called off their plans in the light of the tragedy.
As actress-activist Shabana Azmi said emphatically: "We are doing NOTHING to celebrate the New Year out of respect for the braveheart who lost her life life on Saturday after putting up a valiant fight that brought the people of our country together as one nation demanding safety for India's daughters."