Millennium Post

Raahgiri brings breath of fresh air on Sunday morning

New Delhi: The national capital's hangout destination, Connaught Place, got too busy too early Sunday morning as all roads led to it, but only on foot, as traffic was cordoned off for the Raahgiri Day celebration at the central market.

After a long wait of two years, the Raahgiri Day returned to the city with an additional message of cancer awareness on the World Cancer Day along with the founding motto of making roads available to pedestrians and promoting mobility options like cycling in the city.

With painted faces and dressed in colourful outfits , children hula hooped to enthusiastic cheer from a group of people from 'Clownselors', a counselling service for patients.

Sheetal Agarwal, founder of 'Clownselors', said that initiatives like Raahgiri Day give people a chance to experience a healthier lifestyle and also provide a cause needed platform.

"The initiative is brilliant. We are here for cancer awareness. I think it's really important to have these kind of events, because usually we have stopped getting up early and exercising.

"This is also giving us a chance to experience healthy lifestyle. And start following and doing something about it. Also for the causes that we are concerned about, or we feel passionately about, we have this stage to speak about it, perform about it and spread awareness," Agarwal said.

Conceived by the Raahgiri Foundation, the Raahgiri Day was organised in collaboration with the World Research Institute India (WRII), the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Delhi Police.

Starting early at 6am, the celebration of "reclaiming the roads," for the next three hours witnessed people engaged in yoga, zumba, bhangra, cycling, cricket, and even a good ol' morning walk around the central park.

A crowd gathered in a circle around an odd bunch of people across ages led by Roy Roberts of Djembefola United's Drum Circle thumping foot-tapping beats on their drums.

Coming out of the circle, Roberts said such events help people live a happier life.

"Roads are not only for vehicles, they are for people as well. You can see what they are doing. They are dancing, drumming, we are having such a powerful day and imagine if every sunday starts like this 'Dilwalo ki Delhi ka dil khush ho jayega' (hearts of people will be filled with joy)," he said.

The drumming group has been performing at the Raahgiri events since its beginning in 2014.

"I think it is a very amazing concept, and people should push it. It happens at so many places in the world, I am happy it's happening here as well. I think we should really keep it happening and rocking," Roberts told PTI.

Another side of the Connaught Place roared with laughter as people raised hands to the sky and guffawed till they could not breathe.

Rtd Commodore Amar Awasthi of Laughter Yoga, a yoga style involving laughter therapy, said that it was a great initiative to motive people for a healthy lifestyle and aware them about cancer and its preventive measures.

"We motivate young people to be healthy, because you can protect your nation only when you are physically and mentally fit," he said.

Talking about the traffic restriction in the central plaza, Awasthi felt "very blessed".

"We can breathe the air, it feels clean. We can walk freely. It's truly a great Sunday," he beamed.

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