Embraced by the hicupps and negative reports by the media, press and critics, I had totally set in my mind that the XIX Commonwealth Games 2010, Delhi will be a fultoo mess. But the inaugural ceremony held yesterday at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium really stamped under foot the build-up of scandals.
A standing salute to the national anthem of India with the tricolor dancing everywhere and then the inaugural ceremony set off with laser fireworks shooting upwards filling my heart with thrill and joy. The 40 Crore INR Aerostat balloon was set mount to 25 feet as a display of Indian art, culture and at the most-technology. It is fitted with numerous rotating projectors, LEDs and flash lights. 8 big traditional puppets hung beautifully from it dancing in the evening air with the beats of 800 drummers from various regions of the nation, including the Assamese ‘Dhuleeaz’.
Prince Charles, representing Queen Elizabeth, read out loudly, "I have much pleasure in declaring the 19th Commonwealth Games open". Supported by the cheers of the 60,000-crowded galleries, it almost faded away the signal for formal commencement of the games by Pratibha Patil, President of the Republic of India. She was heard saying, "..as the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi are now open.. Let the Games begin..” Some other 3 billion odd spectators hooked their eyes on their TV and PC screens, thanks to the Doordarshan cameras and some others. But many were reported blaming the long commercial breaks between the telecast; infact the first one had made many believe that there was some glitch on the stadium.
Believed to be a sign of ‘Shubh Aarambh’, roars of the long trumpets, Dunchen, a treasure of the Tibetan Buddhists gave out. Conch (Shonkh) blowers joined them too.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his cabinet colleagues, former President APJ Abdul Kalam, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Maldives President Mohammed Nashid, Prince of Monaco Albert II, Commonwealth Games Federation President Mike Fennell, Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi and a host of dignitaries were present during the opening of the sporting extravaganza.
CWG Federation chief, Mike Fennell and XIX CWG Organizing Committee chairman, Suresh Kalmadi expressed their views on the games.
The Queen’s Baton then made its final run round the stadium floor passing from hands of shooter Abhinav Bindra, badminton star Saina Nehwal, boxer Vijendar Singh and finally wrestler Sushil Kumar after traversing through 71 countries. Abhinav then had the honor of taking the oath on behalf of all the sportsmen as a formal requirement of the games.
There was also a section dedicated to the great tradition of learning which unfolded under the Knowledge Tree - a sacred space of Learning - presenting the Indian Classical dance and music that have been passed on through the Guru shishya Parampara. The production comprised six classical dances of India, including Odissi from Orissa, Bharatnatyam from Tamil Nadu, Kathak from North India, Manipuri from Manipur, Mohiniattam from Kerala and Kuchipudi from Andhra Pradesh. Each classical dance represented a season -- Odissi (Spring), Bharatnatyam (Summer), Kathak (Monsoon), Manipuri (Autumn), Mohiniattam (Fall), Kuchipudi (Winter).
It was followed by various dances performed together by special dance groups from all the states and regions. The aerial view of the dances reflected various structures and positions. Assam was no exception and was an attraction with the 110-member troupe, comprising 48 dancers and 62 drummers (dhuliyaas), led by acclaimed drummer Oja Somnath Bora drawing attention among viewers. At one time the aerial view showcased the sign of respect in Indians- the joining of hands-Namashkar.
Soon 1050 school youngsters were seen making parade to the centre, grouping themselves into 8 rectangular forms and then covering themselves with white satins. Surprise revealed when the white satins started blooming pictures of mehendi clad hands.
Worth notable that the helium giant flowing overhead at the center kept on displaying change of hues, projecting life size revolving images of the action on the ground. The Nagada drums added to the enjoyment. Keshav, a wonder child from Ponducherry seemed quite cheered through his beats on his table by his tiny hands. The musical production of Swagatam, a rendition of a blend of Hindustani and Carnatic that finally climaxed into a Quawalli, was performed by Hariharan.
Then pretty girls wrapped in traditional dresses led the atheletes’ chain from the 71 participating countries.
It was followed by a show of 816 performers’ choreograph that formed the shape of a sun doing the Suryanmaskar - a series of Yoga postures done in salutation to the sun. Performers on the center stage also displayed some of the most complicated asanas. The performers then dramatically changed the choreography and began to spiral, representing the kundalini - the coiled energy, an instinctive force that lies at the base of the spine. A LED display of the spiral energy in a human figure rose from the center stage.
The Cheraw dancers from Mizoram did their Bamboo dance gave the Rhythm to the run of the train. ‘Pung’, a unique Manipuri hand-beaten drum, enthralled the audience with the Pung Cholom, where the dancers twirls and jumps mid air culminating into a thunderous climax.
There was also a segment on Mahatma Gandhi, where the Father of nation was paid rich tribute through a simplistic, humanistic form, depicted through sand animation based on the historic moment of the Dandi March with Mahatma's favourite hymn - Vaishnavo Janato played at the background. Folk dancers from various corners of the country also came together to rejoice and dance in celebration of the message of the Mahatma, showcasing the ultimate richness in India's folk culture.
The opening ceremony finally culminated with the rendition of Oscar winning music composer AR Rahman's CWG 2010 Anthem -- Jeeyo, Utho, Badho, Jeeto (Live, Rise, Move, Win) -- to inspire all the athletes to give them the push to victory.
A giant figure of Lord Buddha was created and rose up from the centre stage to rise up to the canopy. The stadium reverberated with Rahman's Games theme song "Yaaro, India Bula Liya" and his famous "Jai Ho" number from his Oscar-winning " Slumdog Millionaire" album, in the midst of a spectacular fireworks display, before the curtains came down on the spectacular ceremony.
The inaugural ceremony concluded with a well promise of hosting. About 6000 atheletes will chance their luck in the 19th edition of the games that will continue for the next few days.
“Being an Indian, I wish luck to the Indian atheletes and hope for overall success of the Commonwealth Games. Jai Hind!” Report prepared with inputs from 'The Times of India' and 'The Telegraph'