Irish PM, thousands of others usher in 2020 in jam-packed Goa
Panaji, Jan 01: Thousands of people, locals as well as tourists, brought in the New Year amid mid-night masses at churches and fireworks on the beaches in Goa.
Prominent among them was Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose father hails from neighbouring Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra. Varadkar arrived in Goa on December 30 and is staying in a resort in North Goa district.
Local Christians attended various churches across the state.
The ceremony welcoming the New Year began at the churches at 11 pm and culminated with a midnight mass at 12 o'clock with the ringing of bells. Traditional New Year dances were witnessed at various spots, especially in Catholic-dominated Salcette tehsil of South Goa district. The beaches came to life from the evening with thousands of revellers. The police maintained a close vigil.
A huge rush was seen at popular beaches such as Miramar, Calangute, Candolim, Baga, Sinquerim, Keri, Morjim in North Goa and Colva, Benaulim, Betalbhatim, Palolem and Galjibag in South Goa. Deputy Superintendent of Police (Porvorim) Edwin Colaco said that more than 700 policemen were stationed at various points to ensure that law and order were maintained. The police had also set up a special patrolling helpline, he said.
The coastal state is one of the favourite destinations for domestic and foreign tourists to ring in the New Year. The special bashes organised on the New Year's eve are expected to continue till early hours of January 1, and celebrations at some places may spill over to January 2, as the government has relaxed the ban on playing music late at night for two days.
Lanes leading to beach villages in North Goa are the main party arenas. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant greeted people on the eve of New Year. "I urge everyone to rededicate themselves and put in renewed and determined efforts to achieve socio-economic development and take Goa ahead in all areas of human endeavours," Sawant, who took over as CM in 2019, said in a message.