I had my first encounter of a “dry day” on August 15, 2012 (Independence Day). I am sure I was aware of this concept when I was living for that 4 year period in Mumbai, but clearly have been oblivious to it since my return to India. A Dry Day is a specific day in which the sale of alcohol is banned in restaurants and shops. There is absolutely no access to alcohol on these days, days that the government deems important enough to not invite, even a hint of trouble, in the city. For instance, a dry day is observed on days when there are political or legislative elections in the state/ country, so as to not incite any kind of violence or riots amongst the peoples of many faiths, religions and traditions.
I also learned that a Dry Day is maintained out of respect for the significance of the day. Many religious festivals and the birthdays of important people, are dry days. There are some days, such as Independence Day (August 15), Republic Day (January 26) and Mahatma Jaynthi (Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday – October 2nd) that are considered dry days, nationwide. There are other days, such as certain festivals, that my be made a dry day by one state, but not another. So for instance, while Christmas is considered a dry day in Maharashtra, it is not in Karnataka.
More interestingly, I recently discovered that the age limit for the consumption of alcohol, in the sate of Maharashtra (where in Mumbai exists) is a bizarre formula for different spirits. I was a little bewildered when a friend of my told me the following:
21 and above – to legally consume beer
25 and above – to legally consume “other” alcoholic beverages
Now how they came up with this formula is anyone’s guess! As if someone cannot get completely messed up on just beer! It’s no surprise then, that so many people have house parties, especially teenagers. Also, for all the party animals who may think that Mumbai, being such a cosmopolitan city, has a wild night life, think again. If you are not aware, it is a fact that the city’s bars, pubs, and night clubs shut down between 12:30 and 1:00 am. Only hand full of clubs, those that are part of 5 star hotels, are legally permitted to stay open till the wee hours of the morning. Of course, when you get your bill, be prepared to pay a 40% sales tax, twice the amount in a regular bar/club. In my college days, the night was young, even at 4 am. Now, the state has gotten really strict, and rightly so, and has taken preventative measures to curb the Mumbaikers from partying too hard (and some of the irresponsible behaviors that accompany it). It has been this way for years and it does not look like it’s going to change. Luckily, it does not matter to me one way or the other!