Special Correspondent

Bangalore: New Year did not pass in an alcoholic haze for everyone in Bangalore, dubbed the "pub city" by outsiders.

It was also to be an occasion for many to offer thanksgiving for the year ending and prayers for good things in the year ahead. Many churches and temples stayed open till or past midnight to usher in 2006.

While Christians attended late night services at churches ranging from St. Mark's Cathedral to St. Mary's Basilica and smaller churches around the city, for others the holy places too were open at night. For some years now, some of the prominent and even newer temples have made a practice of being open for late night worshippers on December 31. The priests say they have been getting larger crowds since they started the practice a few years ago, though some are against it on the grounds that the "agama shastras" require a temple to be closed late at night. The ISKCON temple in Rajajinagar will be open fairly late on Saturday and will open its doors from early Sunday morning. The Sai Baba mandirs in Ulsoor and elsewhere too open their doors early on New Year day. Elsewhere in the city, hectic transactions are on at stores selling home appliances and entertainment electronic goods. One can opt for a cash discount or get freebies like a DVD player with a large screen TV set or free set of utensils with a microwave oven. "Combo offers" of TV, refrigerator and washing machine are also on. Store managers say they can cut margins with larger volumes and still earn a profit. For others, it is a question of reducing the inventory of older stocks with newer models of appliances due soon.

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