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COLOUR, SPECTACLE AS COMMONWEALTH GAMES BEGIN

By NBF News

Commonwealth Games: Aerostat is lift up at Jawaharial Nehru stadium

Watched by millions across the globe, the 19th Commonwealth Games got off to a spectacular start in New Delhi, India, on Sunday evening amid traditional Indian music, dance and a burst of colours at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the heart of the city.

Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Indian President, Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, watched as 1,000 drummers stirred up a thumping beat, puppets danced in the air and thousands of children gathered at the packed stadium to sing a welcome to the world.

After the Indian national anthem was sung, the opening act, “Rhythm of India”, set the mood for the much awaited sports event with electrifying energy.

The 'shankh naad' (auspicious blowing of conch shells) and fireworks then lit the sky like dawn.

A helium aerostat crowned the stadium and suspended puppets danced to life when drummers from across the country gathered in unison claiming that India has arrived.

Celebrating the best of India, seven-year-old Keshava from Puducherry drummed up beats on his tabla, his fingers flying in rhythm and watched by a capacity crowd of 65,000 that had packed into the stadium to watch the Games begin. As the “Rhythms of Life” came into life and the drummers filed out, Indian schoolchildren took centrestage and, led by well-known vocalist, Hariharan, sang out “Su Swagatam” to welcome the 6,700 athletes as well as officials and visitors to the city.

The song reached a crescendo with a Sufiana qawwali, illustrating the charms of syncretic, secular India.

They formed a “namaste”, the age-old Indian greeting with hands folded, in the vast field. A collective roar echoed in the stadium as the participants, in a rapid fluid movement, held aloft white sheets to splash red paint and show up intricate henna designs.

All along the ceremony, the moving lights on the helium balloon continued to change their hues, projecting life size revolving images of the action on the ground. With the welcome over, it was the turn of the athletes parade.

Dressed in the colours of their country, the athletes from 71 countries and territories filed past the appreciative crowd, waving and cheering.