By Steven Lang
About 25 people gathered at Grey Dam for the annual ‘Polar Plunge’ recently. The icy swim is a Makhanda ritual, held every year for the past 23 years to celebrate the winter solstice.
Before the plunge started, the organiser, Professor George Euvrard, made his way into the cold water until he was waist-deep, facing the bank. Barely containing his shivering, he gave the swimmers basic instructions and then recited the mantra:
“We are gathered here this morning to celebrate the end of the longest night of the year and to welcome back into our lives greater light and warmth and at the same time, we use this opportunity to commit ourselves again to bringing greater light, warmth, and love into the world as we go ‘into the light'”.
The crazy Makhandans jumped into the freezing cold waters and then swam around the remnants of an old jetty, before heading back to land further down the shore.
As they left the cold waters, they were punished for their courage by an icy breeze wafting over the dam. The reward, however, was a welcome hot chocolate provided by the organisers.