After having been successfully implemented in several Indian cities including Delhi, Gurgaon, and Mumbai, Raahgiri Day (which celebrates the right to reclaim access to city roads) was organised for the first time in City Beautiful at New Lake, Sector 42, on Sunday.
The Day, which will be observed on every Sunday from now on, aims to sensitise citizens towards road safety, air pollution, and the importance of physical activities and inclusive development.
Every Sunday the 3-km stretch of road surrounding New Lake, Sector 42, will be converted into a no-vehicle zone giving people absolute access to the roads within the area and allowing them the freedom to do anything.
People from all age groups across tricity participated in several activities including yoga sessions, zumba and cycling, which were conducted from 7 am to 12 pm.
A selfie stall, a graffiti wall and DJ were put up among several other attractions to engage people. Two street plays highlighting the importance of cleanliness were enacted.
Viahali, a third-year medical student who lives in Sector 42-A, did not know about the event. She was curious to find out when she heard loud music and saw a lot of people gathered at the lake. “I loved the event, especially the two enactments on cleanliness. The concept of reclaiming the roads once a week on Sunday mornings is really fascinating,” she said.
A sub-inspector deployed at the venue, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The programme went well. Most people do not know about Raahgiri yet, since it is the first time such a concept has been introduced in the city. But the people of Chandigarh are educated and aware. They will be receptive to the idea.”
Mona Gulathi, a teacher, believes that people would and should feel the need for such events. “Parents want their children to play out in the open. I have come all the way from greater Mohali just to be a part of this. If I can, anyone can. It is such an energetic way to start a Sunday morning,” she said.
Jasmehar Gulathi, her son who studies in Class 4, had a great time skating on the roads with his friends. “He has been skating since he was 4. He has really enjoyed today,” said his mother.
Gulneet Mann, who works with a global conglomerate, thinks it to be high time for Chandigarh to claim its authority over its roads, even if it is for a few hours every Sunday morning. “A lot more people would have gathered today had there not been the Indo-Pak World Cup match. It is a novel idea which has been successful in several cities. It is such a pleasant change to see the streets so peaceful, devoid of the regular traffic and clutter. Raahgiri is here to stay in Chandigarh,” he said.
The event is an initiative by Chandigarh administration and city police in partnership with EMBARQ India, a not-for-profit think tank, with Hindustan Times as its media partner.
The people who miss participating in physical activities in the open need not sulk anymore. For all you people, New Lake, Sector 42, is the place to be every Sunday morning. firstname.lastname@example.org