New Delhi: The death of a 23-year-old 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, and what she had to go through," said a young woman in Kolkata's Park Street.
There were those who partied of course, ringing in the New Year with their friends and family. In the many Gurgaon condominiums, for instance, some took the decision to not light up the buildings as is customary 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 Press Club of India, cancelled their celebrations. Punjabi rapper Honey Singh's show in a hotel in Gurgaon, adjoining the national capital, was called off too as an people protested the sexist and misogynistic lyrics of his song.
There were no New Year parties for the armed forces and for President Pranab Mukherjee as well as Congress president Sonia Gandhi who had decided not to celebrate the day in memory of the 23-year-old.
Like them, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy were staying away from New Year celebrations and also announced that they would not receive any New Year greetings in person.
"The usual exchange of greetings with members of the civil society has been cancelled at Raj Bhavan as homage to the death of the 23-year-old whose life was cut short by a heinous incident at Delhi," a statement from the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad said.
Similar announcements came in from Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi, who participated in a candle light 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. All plans in the Bachchan family for the New Year have been cancelled."
Other topnotch celebrities , like the Kapoors--Rishi, Neetu and Ranbir --and the Roshans , too called off their plans in the light of the tragedy.
Shabana Azmi, who had planned a New Years eve party at her farm-house in Lonavala with her husband Javed Akhtar, 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."