Thiruvananthapuram | A three-hour-long cultural extravaganza involving over 5,000 artistes this evening marked the beginning of the 35th National Games that will see nearly 10,000 competitors vie for top honours in the next 14 days.
Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu declared open the games which will be held in 30 venues across seven districts of Kerala. Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, who is also the goodwill ambassador of the game, handed over the festival torch to legendary athletes P T Usha and Anju Bobby George who lit the games flame.
Previous hosts Jharkhand and defending champions Services led the march past by the participating teams at the new Greenfield stadium, built at a cost of Rs 161 crore, at Kariyavattom in the outskirts of the capital city.
The 50,000-strong spectators welcomed the home team’s contingent with a thunderous roar.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his best wishes to all the participants.
‘My best wishes to all athletes participating in the 35th National Games that commence today in Kerala,’ the Prime Minister tweeted. Organisers said about 10,000 sportspersons from 36 units, including the newly carved out state of Telangana and Services, would fight it out in 31 disciplines.
Long before the start of the opening ceremony, people started queuing up at the gates of the stadium.
Cultural programmes began with a special theme play ‘The War Cry,’ which featured simulated war scenes based on the true life story legendary 16th century naval captain Kunjali Marakkar, enacted by popular Malayalam actor Mohanlal.
It was followed by a musical event featuring a line up of 101 percussion artists, led by legendary ‘chenda’(a traditional Kerala drum) maestro Mattannur Shankaran Kutty. Kerala’s traditional form of arts like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kalari and Velakali were also showcased at the venue.
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