Oblivious to the rising temperature and a scorching sun, nearly 500 painters splashed color on a 200-foot-long canvas to say that Delhi is ready for the Games, at least in spirit. Divya Chandra, a professional painter who had come to the India Gate lawns with her family, said, ‘‘It was so much fun to be painting on a canvas with so many other artists. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience as we all were in a mood of celebration.’’
Eminent painters Satish Gujral and Jatin Das were also present to be a part of the celebrations. Gujral made the first stroke on the canvas before others enthusiastically took over. ‘‘There is a great enthusiasm for the Games. There may be so much construction going on everywhere but we should bear the problems now because in the end, we will have so much development in the city,’’ Gujral said.
Suresh Kalmadi, chairperson, Organizing Committee, Commonwealth Games 2010, said, ‘‘It’s great to see so many people turning up. We will have such celebrations every fortnight now. We are already preparing Delhites for the Games and it’s going to be wonderful. We will take these paintings to different stadia now.’’
With the programme being organized on Sunday, many parents grabbed the chance to spend quality time with their children. ‘‘We read an advertisement in the papers about the Commonwealth Games celebration. Since we reside close by in Bapa Nagar, we brought the children here. I am glad, they are having so much fun,’’ said Neerja Joshi, mother of a class V student.
Colors and drawing sheets were provided by the organizers. She added, ‘‘We just came here to see what the celebrations were like. My son knows quite a lot about the Commonwealth Games. It almost seems like a festival now.’’ Four-year old Pooja Gupta, who was engrossed in making drawings, was too busy to even look up. ‘‘I am making a kite,’’ she quickly mentioned.
Though the sun was unbearable, it did not stop many children from coming out in open and enjoy kite flying. Looking up was difficult, so the tiny tots had to make do with holding the strings attached with kites set in air by the organizers. Others collected the red and white kites as souvenirs of the approaching Games.
Call it unbridled enthusiasm. As close to 500 painters came together on Sunday at India Gate, even a 200-foot canvas made up of smaller pieces kept side-by-side was not enough. Such was the excitement that most artists ended up vying for space to give their best stroke. After they were through, many were seen going back to give finishing touches to their work so they could stand out in the riot of colors. ‘‘There were like 10 painters on one canvas. We painted on whatever space we could grab,’’ said an artist who left her name in the centre of her painting. Children spent the morning drawing just about anything. Though there were tables and chairs for the participants, some were so engrossed they just lay on the ground even as their parents fetched them colors, food and water.
Many were seen working on their pieces even after the professional painters had left. A few street children turned up at the venue and got a chance to see what they should ideally be doing in life having fun. Though they came to collect used plastic bottles, some of them stopped to see children their age playing with colors. They had to rush soon but not without taking along a few abandoned kites. That Delhi is trying to be a good host was evident in the messages left behind by the artists. ‘Welcome to India’, ‘Best wishes’, ‘I love India’, ‘We love peace’ painters had scribbled all kinds of messages on the canvas even though they were not given any common theme to paint on.