An innovative ceremony delights one and all

A marchpast with a difference and spreading messages about the world’s children highlight a great show.

Updated - November 16, 2021 11:15 pm IST

Published - July 24, 2014 03:06 am IST - Glasgow

India's flag bearer Vijay Kumar leads his team during the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow on Wednesday.

India's flag bearer Vijay Kumar leads his team during the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games 2014 in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Given human nature, it was certain that comparisons would be drawn with the magic created by Danny Boyle in London two years ago. The London Opening Ceremony was on a wider canvas and with a far bigger budget.

But David Zolkwer can take pride in the fact that he helped the city of Glasgow and Scotland provide a joyous welcome to the Commonwealth at the Celtic Park on Wednesday night.

The nearly 190-minute programme was mostly musical with songs and dances led by an array of Scottish icons and others, including Rod Stewart, Susan Boyle and Amy Macdonald, who kept a capacity crowd entertained.

It was also laced with humour and jollity that spread smiles on the lips of the spectators who had thronged the park a good two-and-three-quarters of an hour before the pre-ceremony activities even began.

Like ceremonies that one had witnessed in the past, this also followed a pattern. It was well conceived and executed despite being put on board by volunteers, mostly without an artistic background.

The show was one with a difference as young and old came together to portray the rich heritage of a country that had been independent for more than seven centuries before it joined the Union. For all this and more, the ceremony would be long remembered.

What will help it find a place in the history books would be the innovations, which were cleverly crafted into a programme and seemed to spell out the core values of the Games in a splendid fashion.

The use of the Scottish Terriers, sporting coats bearing the names of the teams that marched in after the arrival of the Head of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth, was one such novelty.

India leads the pack

India, as the host of the last Commonwealth Games, was given the privilege of leading the marchpast. The team led by ace shooter Vijay Kumar was greeted with a hearty applause.

The men were clad in grey trousers, white shirts, pale blue IOA ties, dark blue blazers and bright red turbans, while the women were draped in multi-coloured sarees and blazers.

But the biggest roar reverberated through the Park when host Scotland brought up the rear in the marchpast.

The official uniforms made up of turquoise, fuchsia and navy tartan had created such consternation among the Scottish people, drawing even a signed protest inked by more 30,000 people for its withdrawal. However, as the team walked in all this was forgotten and it was given a standing applause.

What touched the heart most were the two acts that followed immediately. Right at the official start of the programme, and through the marchpast, there was a conscious effort to highlight the difficult conditions under which children live across the globe.

This was done using pre-recorded videos and messages by UNICEF Ambassadors, including one by Sachin Tendulkar, that exhorted the world to put the needs of children first.

In another first for a major sporting event, the show turned into the fund-raiser for charity and that too for such a purpose. It was a class act.

And when the First Minister for Scotland, Alex Salmond, stepped up to lead the Commonwealth in paying tributes to the victims of last week’s airline disaster, there again was a definite hint of pain in the faces of all those around.

Small hitch

There was a moment of flutter when the Commonwealth Games Federation president, Prince Imran, struggled to open the Queen’s Baton, which was brought to the podium by British cycling great, Chris Hoy, in one go. He could take out the encased script only after Hoy stepped in. All along, the Queen remained a silent spectator with a smile gracing her face.

But finally, as the script was handed over to her, the Queen declared the Games open with a simple message seeking the youth of the Commonwealth to help in furthering the values and the future of a bonding that has now stood the test of time for 84 years through sporting activity.

Fireworks lit up the balmy city sky as the Queen stepped away and the Friendly Games was finally on.

Glaswegians celebrated through the night after having put up a show that was markedly different from others in the past.

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