THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:Opening ceremonies, more often than not, tend to be bloated affairs. Thankfully, the inaugural gala of the 35th National Games was spared such garish indulgences. The triumph of the fare was in its simplicity - a portrayal of the state’s legacies, with its vibrancy and splendour.
The night Kerala was to project its image as a sporting destination, praying that the fortnight that unfolds would drown the troubled build-up to the Games, began unannounced. The crimson hue of the setting sun still lingered when the first set of fireworks went up, impromptu, weaving hazy images through the unlit floodlights.
It’s been 14 months since Sachin Tendulkar retired, but the craving to spot him or touch him or if possible be photographed with him, still remains. As Tendulkar waved at the crowd, sporting that adorable smile, they went near bonkers. The accustomed chant of ‘Sachin, Sachin’ throbbed the arena, recreating the burst of vocal expending that accompanied the fall of India’s second wicket in Tests.
By the time the march-pasts were done with - Kerala athletes slickly attired in kurtas, mundus and traditional set saris - and the cultural programmes began, the fading natural light had made way for neon bulbs.
The multi-segment ceremony that ensued embraced in its sweep thousands of athletes, puppets, performers, drums, dancers, fireworks and flags, music and merriment, songs and saris, Ammu and Lalisom, synergy and synchronisation.
The most defining frame of the night was when former athletes P T Usha and Anju Bobby George lighted the Games torch. Now, the spectacle of Saturday moves over to sports from Sunday. And hopefully, the attention will shift from controversies to champions.