Monday, October 4, 2010

CWG 2010 Opening Ceremony: Glitz and Glory

On 3rd October 2010, the whole nation, starry eyed, awaited the opening ceremony of the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. Shadowed by only negative attributes in the last month, the games and the nation bore the brunt of endless scams; embezzlement of public money; shoddy, unfinished and delayed work; innumerable reminders of unlivable conditions in the athlete’s village, collapsing foot over bridge and false ceilings, caving in roads; slaughter by heavy rain and inundation. It seemed that the nation had to gear for more embarrassment with the commencement of the games.

However, yesterday, thousands of people from Delhi and outside buried the hatchet and came to laud the glitz and glory showcased by a nation that possesses prolific culture. A long, boring conversation between Charu Sharma and his colleague, the anchors for the show on DD; long commercial breaks made the audience impatient in many homes. The channel Doordarshan, the official broadcaster of the Delhi CWG 2010, provides LIVE High Definition content of the games to all its viewers.

The opening ceremony began with huge posse of percussionists from all over India marching to the forefront, playing bold music. The central dais was huge and had a small kid, Keshava from Pondichery at the tabla. He was oblivious of the many eyes watching him as he played the tabla. He shook his small hair curls and locks, his face wore a constant smile, as he enjoyed every musical moment in true maestro Zakhir Hussain style, the crowd went into a crescendo of applause.

A presentation on the various forms of classical dance in India was the next grand event – groups of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniaattam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Odissi and Kathak dancers performed to classical tunes, first singly and then in unison. Next was the turn of thousands of children, neatly forming a pattern of hands folded in welcome – the Swagatham symbol against the backdrop of a song rendered by renowned singer Hariharan. The children swiftly changed their hanging robes and created the tricolor. Shrouded under a huge white cloth, they used altha (red dye) and created an image of mehandi on palm in no time. At this point, the audience roared in cheer and amazement and it was clear that India was doing every essential act to recover its lost pride.

The central showstopper in yesterday’s opening ceremony was the 70 crores rupees worth aerostat held aloft, above the central dais. Huge in perimeter, with many reflector panels in its base, it created magical lighting and stunning visual effects. Events happening far below on the floor of the stadium were displayed vividly on the aerostat's screen. Hogging all the limelight, this helium balloon added the quintessential element of BIG scale grandeur to the ceremony, making it a sheer visual treat to millions.

There were speeches by heads of India and the British Empire – our Prime Minister, Mr.Manmohan Singh addressed the gathering, he appeared sober and preoccupied. The head of OC – Mr. Suresh Kalmadi was next in turn and welcomed by incessant booing from the crowd. Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales declared the games open, reading out Queen Elizabeth II's message. To my surprise, the President of India – Ms. Prathiba Patil possessed more energy and fervor than anyone did in the stadium, she announced boldly – “Let the games begin”.

The contingents from 71 nations across the world marched in pride and cheer waving to the audience. The previous games host, Australia, led the parade followed by other nations in alphabetical order, with India, the current host, marching in the end. As the various contingents marched, the name and the national flag of their country appeared vibrantly on the aerostat. The Indian contingent was led by Olympic Gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra who also delivered the oath of the games in a composed manner and with clear diction. The Queen’s baton relay continued in the stadium passing from hands of one Indian sports icon to other - Vijendra Singh, bronze medalist in Boxing, Beijing Olympics 2008, Mary Kom, 5 times world champion in women’s boxing, Samaresh Jung, nicknamed the "Golden Finger" for his medal kitty in 2006 CWG and Sushil Kumar, a bronze medalist in wrestling in Beijing Olympics, 2008. The Commonwealth Games flag was hoisted with impeccable military honor.

The cultural extravaganza continued in full throttle in front of the athletes’ teams assembled in the floor of the stadium. There was a pompous display of rich culture and diversity in India by the Indian Railways. A temporary, but beautifully crafted rail engine wriggled into the stadium to the tune of Chaiyya Chaiyya song, with its many coaches displaying varied elements of a common man’s life in Indian states. There were dabbawaalas from Mumbai, bangle stores, sweets and condiments shops, cycle repair shops, porters walking and folk dancers from all parts of the country dancing to lively music. The celebration was huge and it was like a Kumbha Mela/fair.

Highly talented artists crafted art, using sand, on a screen and depicted the Dandi march – salt Satyagraha movement led by the father of our nation. The brilliant piece of work was thrown open to full view on the aerostat. Prince Charles and Princess Camilla were caught staring at the sand art in rapt attention. Towards the end of this creation, a Gandhi like figure, in rich illumination of laser beams arose from the central stage. There was an astounding display of the various Aasanas in Yoga by school children. This event ended with a human figure in a yoga posture with dazzling laser beams and rich lighting effects emerging from the central dais. The delegates from various nations wore a completely look, a look of ratification that when it comes to richness of culture, color, life and vivacity, India is Incredible, and is undoubtedly, unbeatably the BEST.

The maestro AR Rahman arrived in the last segment of the ceremony along with an elaborate and ornate array of fireworks springing up from every corner of the stadium. He rendered the CWG 2010 theme song accompanied by synchronized gyrations from a group of dancers. The folk dance artists were still on the floor performing their classy steps to his tune. More power packed than his theme song, was his rendition of Jai Ho song that sent the stadium into reeling applause, cheer and uproar. Jai ho truly works out magic – be it the Oscar awards podium or the Delhi Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. To mark the end, Rahman sang loudly – Jiyo, Utho, Badho, Jeetho; bolstering further, the message – Come out and Play!

1 comment:

Divya Shankar said...

I wanted to leave this as a footnote - Where was Shera, the mascot of the CWG 2010? Conspicuous absence .. did I miss seeing him or was Shera really not there at the stadium?