The 19th Commonwealth Games kicked off to a grand start Sunday night in New Delhi. The opening ceremonies consisted of a blend of the modern and ancient, as over 60,000 people filled Jawaharial Nehru Stadium. Hundreds of performers helped initiate the Commonwealth Games using drums and Tibetan horns, one of the world’s oldest musical instruments, dating back to 1500 B.C.E. All around the stadium, flags bearing the motto of the Commonwealth Games-“Come out and play!”-waved.
In attendance at the opening ceremonies was Prince Charles and his wife Camilla. The Prince was also joined by Indian President Pratibha Patil and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. To ensure their protection, as well as the fans’, a security blanket of 7,500 personnel was scattered across Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. Among other security arrangements, Delhi airspace has also been restricted until the Commonwealth Games’ conclusion on Oct. 14.
The theme of this Games’ opening ceremony was “Rhythms of Life,” and featured both old and new favorites of Indian life. As thousands of horns blared, a helium airship, emblazoned with flashy reflectors and images, slowly rose up out of the stadium while the rim of Jawaharial Nehru exploded in a blaze of fireworks. Hundreds of drummers played simultaneously from the field. Seven-year-old Keshava from Puducherry was featured on his tabla-a native Indian drum. And as the drums faded, singer Hariharan-famous for blending traditional Indian music with more modern musical stylings-performed “Swagatam” as thousands of schoolchildren painted red, white, and green formed a living Indian flag on the field. The song reached its peak with a Sufiana qawwali.
Once concluded, all the participants formed a “namaste,” the oldest Indian greeting formed by hands folded together. The greeting was met with thunderous approval in the stands at Jawaharial Nehru stadium.
The athlete delegates then took the field, beginning with Australia, who hosted the last Commonwealth Games in 2006. Some 71 countries will be fielding over 7,000 athletes during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which will begin Monday and conclude Oct. 14.
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“Horns, drums, children launch Commonwealth Games.” CBC News
“Colour and spectacle as Commonwealth Games open.” Hidustan Times
“Biggest Commonwealth Games kicks off in Delhi.” Times of India.