Kerala rolled out a classy Opening ceremony to mark the beginning of the 15-day event. The huge public enthusiasm and the diverse cultural fanfare laid out by the organizers were the hallmarks of the four-hour non-stop programme at the new Trivandrum International stadium.
The show had a percussion-based start, followed by a colourful march past of the teams. Services, the overall champion over the last two editions of the Games, led the teams, followed by other States and Union territories in alphabetical order, with host Kerala bringing up the rear. The entry of the IOA flag too was greeted warmly by the crowd as it was brought in by six former internationals and hoisted.
The Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, the Sports Minister, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, the Union Minister of State for Sports, Sarbananda Sonowal and the IOA president N. Ramachandran briefly spoke before the Union Minister for Urban Development, M. Venkaiah Naidu declared the Games open.
Delivering the inaugural address, Naidu was vocal with his praise on the rich traditions of Kerala sport and lauded the State’s commitment, discipline and devotion that helped in completing the stadium construction in time and in conducting the ceremony in utmost harmony. He also urged for a health conscious life and added “let us work together as a team.”
The Games torch, which had traversed across the state from Kasargode to the capital, was brought in to the stadium and took a complete circle by the state’s Arjuna and Dronacharya awardees before it was taken to the podium and handed over to the Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar by Arjuna awardee KM Beenamol. Sachin, who received a huge ovation, then passed it to the all-time legends of the Kerala’s sports, Olympians P.T.Usha and Anju Bobby George who together lit the Games cauldron, a massive sized traditional Kerala lamp.
The colourful fireworks that followed and the criss-crossing mesh of myriad light spouts altogether gave an electric dimension to the evening sky. The cultural extravaganza started with Film Star Mohanlal’s theme play simulating the war scenes based on true life of Kunjali Marakkar who fought against the Parankikal (The Portuguese).
A ballet called “Bhava Rasa” was put into play by about 200 men bearing burning torches, supporting pyrotechnics, 40 Mizhavu and 20 Timpani performing in unison who were joined by 80 percussionists, 100 Kuzhal players, 200Elathalam players.
Another show included 100 each of Thimila and Maddalam artists, 100 Kathakali dancers, 200 Chenda, 100 Velakali performers, 200 Mohiniyattam dancers, 100 Kalaripayattu performers, 340 Muthukuda and 80 Theyyam performers in the backdrop of Chendamelam led by Padmasree Mattanoor.
The grand ceremony concluded with “Lalism – India singing”, a special musical show by Mohanlal and his new troupe. Udit Narayan, Hariharan, Ankit Trivedi, Alka Yagnik, Bhoomi Trivedi, Karthik, MG Sreekumar and Sujatha were among those who sang.
Cine director TK Rajeev Kumar was the creative director of the pogramme.