Monday, March 9, 2009

Kicking off the Baton Relay, A Mega Event At India Gate

Sunday evening’s show at India Gate was a stunning combination of flawless choreography, laser lights show and fireworks display
Around 300 artistes, 20,000 spectators and a show that set the mood for 2010 Commonwealth Games, barely a year away. The celebrations put up by the Commonwealth Organizing Committee for the Queen’s Baton Relay as the countdown to Games 2010 was a mesmerising mix of laser lights, tribal dances and the Flying Angels from the UK.

The flawless choreography, which saw a glimpse of sportsbased dance forms from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala and elsewhere as well as videos of the ‘‘spirit’’ of Delhi, had the audience spell-bound as L-G Tejendra Khanna and Suresh Kalmadi unveiled the prototype of the baton on Sunday evening at the India Gate.

Kicking off the relay, which will see the baton travel the entire country as well as all the Commonwealth nations before reaching the Buckingham Palace, from where it will be brought back to India before the Games begin in October 2010, the L-G reiterated the city’s determination to host the Games.

Commenting on apprehensions expressed by various sections about the unpreparedness of the city government to put up the sporting extravaganza, Khanna said, ‘‘I assure everyone the preparations are on schedule and the city is more than capable of hosting the Commonwealth Games.’’

It wasn’t just the build-up to the Games on the establishment’s mind. Khanna also stressed on the security aspects, which he said were top priority. ‘‘Delhi’s always lived with diversity and that unity will be reflected in the Games,’’ said the L-G. Also present at the event were various dignitaries, including ministers from the government as well as from foreign missions.

The visual extravaganza kept the audience spell-bound through the 90-minutes of entertainment put up by the ITDC, which organized the event. Admitted Rajiv Makin, director (commercial & marketing), ITDC, ‘‘The concept was deliberately kept on the themes of sports and culture. This show is the culmination of over six months of hard work.’’ Added Michael Menezes, MD, Showtime Events, one of the partners in the organization of the event, ‘‘It would’ve been easy to put Bollywood into the show, but we wanted something different. That’s how the concept of the sports-based dance forms, mostly martial art forms, was introduced, along with the Toll theater group from UK, which brought in Flying Angels.’’

The audience loved the Angels as well as energetic display by Indian artists. The show was rounded off by a display of fireworks. Said Apara Garewal, a teenager who had come to catch the show, ‘‘It was a lot of fun. Suddenly, I feel I’m part of the Games. I feel so proud of my city.’’ Garewal’s enthusiasm seemed to be shared by the 20,000-strong crowd that turned up to watch the show. The laser show, which kept the India Gate covered in various motifs throughout the event, also drew a huge applause.