The air was sombre as survivors and families of victims of the bomb blast that rocked Sarojini Nagar market last year gathered at the blast site on Sunday to commemorate the first anniversary of the tragedy.
In front of the huge banner that displayed the pictures of the victims, many families wept quietly. For them it was a revisit to the place that had changed their lives forever.
Their loss had brought them together, closer. In remembrance of the tragedy that killed 50 people and left several injured, traders organised a prayer meeting where they paid homage through the rites performed by representatives of various faiths.
Survivors like Varun Poddar, who had lost a limb and a young son, Karan, or wife of 75-year-old SV Murthy, another victim, watched the proceedings in solemn silence. “Each family’s loss is personal. But through ceremonies like this, we get to share each other’s grief,” said Murthy.
In terms of arrangements, the memorial service was a mammoth exercise. Seventeen priests, joined by the families of victims, performed a puja around a huge havan for the departed souls.
A priest from the Muslim community, along with 30 children, recited the Quran, while a reverend father from the Lodhi Road parish read the Bible and Gyani Randheer Singh from the nearby gurdwara offered readings from the Guru Granth Sahib.
Traders chipped in with manpower, leaving their respective businesses aside for half a day. “The organising had begun a month ago and each family was invited. Traders spent countless hours in making this day worthwhile for the kith and kin of those affected,” said Ashok Randhawa, president of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association.
George Mathew of Dwarka, a survivor, was there to empathise with others and also to seek justice for two survivors who were foreign nationals. Patrick and Regina, both from Ghana, were severely injured in the blast. After treatment at Safdarjung hospital, they got a compensation of Rs 50,000 each from the Delhi government.
“Now both say that the cheques cannot be cashed. They complain that the government may not have cleared the payment,” said Randhawa.
At the end of the ceremony, the gatherers donated food to 12 priests, each representing a bygone month during the past year of mourning.