DELHI: Minutes after the dignitaries arrived at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the 60,000 attendees at the Opening Ceremony stood at attention for the National Anthem of India. A countdown took place to the tunes of Nagada drummers for the ceremonies to begin. It kicked off by the rising of the aerostat by snake charmers and a spectacular display of lights. Several rounds of fireworks lit the skies of Delhi and raised a huge applause from the stadium.
After the aerostat was in place, the Rhythms of India segment brought in drummers from all corners of India; the Pung Cholum from Manipur, the Chenda from Kerala, Gaja Dhol, Wangala, Dholu Kunitha and the Bhangra, including the sensational Keshav on Tabla, a child prodigy from Auroville, Puducherry. The Swagatham song followed the Rhythms of India performed by the famous Hariharan. Words from 18 different languages of India appeared on the aerostat, all translating to ‘Welcome’.
Schoolchildren from all around Delhi swayed to the tunes of Hariharan and later pulled a fabric over their heads and painted two mehndi-stained palms which resemble the ‘swagatham’ or ‘namaste’ gesture. After the cultural display, the athletes parade started with the marching in of athletes and officials from all 71 nations and territories ending with India to a huge applause from the audience.