Raahgiri: Of The People, By The People, For The People | Rustic Town

Raahgiri: Of The People, By The People, For The People

If you believe you can make a difference, then you will make a difference. Believe in yourself, your family and your community and you will win-Lindsay Fox

It was inspiring to see dozens of world leaders and more than a million people marching through Paris recently in a show of unity against violent extremism that took place at a satirical magazine's office a few days ago. The world even saw Hollywood celebrities expressing their support at an awards show held recently after the protest march.

It was a sense of community that saw people come together for a common cause.

The same sense of community made me feel joyed when the concept of Raahgiri (pronounced: raah-gee-ree) came about. Now, single-handedly, Raahgiri has made social participation look so cool.

Raahgiri Day is a weekly event that gives citizens the opportunity to use roads for recreational programs and connect with everyone on a community level.

A designated stretch of road or street is set aside for citizens to come together for recreation that promotes health, well being, fitness, togetherness and joy. No motorized vehicles are allowed to ply on those roads or streets within that stipulated time.

Taken from an Urdu word Raahgir that means 'a passenger of road', the term 'Raahgiri' talks about taking charge of our own journey, streets, lives and destiny.

The origin of this program can be traced to the concept of Ciclovia (or Cyclovia), a Spanish term for “cycleway”. It meant closing certain streets in Bagota, Columbia for cyclists, joggers, skateboards and pedestrians. The concept has become popular all over the world and is known by different names, such as Open Streets, Summer Streets, Sunday Streets, Streets Alive!, etc. There's Open Streets in Chicago, Open Streets Toronto, Open Streets Minneapolis, and in many other cities.

The event is celebrated in many cities all across India, such as New Delhi, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bangalore, etc.

The concept of Raahgiri was started in order to encourage citizens the use of cycling, walking and public transport. With the help of local administrations and corporate sponsors, Raahgiri Day has evolved beyond that and has become bigger and better.

Thus, you see lot's and lot's of activities taking place. Multiple stages are set up by corporate partners for dance and Aerobics performance (Zumba, Jazz, Cross Fit etc.), yoga sessions take place on the road, sporting activities are carried out such as skating, football, Frisbee throwing, Gully Cricket; street plays are performed complete with elaborate dresses and makeup, and musical programs (singing shows, rock bands, drumming, etc.) are also held.

One also gets to see lots of charitable and public awareness stalls being set up, such as blood-donation camps, free health check-ups, clean India campaign, etc. Funnily enough, you also see many organizations, political parties and groups slyly promoting themselves as well (Where else will you find such a mass congregation of peaceful people!)

You'll be surprised to know that for past few weeks, the one that takes place in New Delhi (Dwarka) takes place very near to where I live. Thus, my husband, daughter and I wake up early every Sunday and revel in the celebration from 7 am to 10 am.

And what a sight it is!

Everyone, from little kids, teenagers, housewives, youngsters, to even senior citizens throng the place and participate enthusiastically.

People smile and dance, beat drums, sit on the roads, cycle carefree, perform in front of the massive crowds, swing in extreme joy and forget all their worries. All this, while braving cold winters and thick fogs.

Here are some of the pics of the Raahgiri Day that took place in Dwarka few Sundays ago:

To know more about Raahgiri and see lot's of other pictures, click on Raahgiri Day.

You see the power of people on the roads. You see what they have, when we all join hands and become one community.

More power to the common man!

Je suis Charlie.

Shalu Goel
Shalu Goel


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