Show of oneness in ‘Abode of Clouds’

Shuttler PV Sindhu leads Indian contingent in the parade during the opening ceremony of the Shillong leg of 12th South Asian Games in city on Saturday; dancers present a cultural item. (ST, MIPR)

SHILLONG: It was history in the making at the JN Sports Complex on Saturday as Shillong ushered in the 12th South Asian Games in a grand ceremony.
A 8000-strong crowd and a host of dignitaries including Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports, Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Vice Chairman of the Games Technical Coordination Committee, Indian Olympic Association, S. M. Bali, Sports Minister, Zenith Sangma and contingents from all eight participating nations among others witnessed the gala event, the first of its kind in this part of the country, which began with the playing of the National Anthem.
On the occasion, the theme song for the 12th South Asian Games was also introduced. The parade by respective contingents of the eight participating countries drew applause from the crowd which expectedly cheered the loudest for the Indian contingent with shuttler PV Sindhu as the flag bearer. The Pakistan contingent was also in focus and received a warm welcome from Shillongites.
Officially opening the ceremony, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma welcomed the athletes to the “Abode of Clouds”.
“It’s a rare opportunity to see the flags of eight nations waving at the JN Stadium,” a visibly delighted Sangma said adding that it is the duty of the State to play the perfect hosts to all visiting nations.
“We are proud to share that North East India has come a long way to be able to host an event of this magnitude,” the Chief Minister said wishing that the 12th SAG be a grand success.
The Chief Minister also said that the South Asian Games was an opportunity to go beyond sporting extravaganza and take advantage of the associations of the eight countries for the benefit of the people.
Union Minister of State and Sports Affairs, Sarbananda Sonowal meanwhile said that the South Asian Games will bring harmony, friendship, cooperation and unity among all South Asian nations.”
“Sports build unity and oneness,” Sonowal said adding that “People of the North East are friendly and known for their hospitality and wished that all contingents have a memorable experience in the region.”
Meanwhile, Shillongites were treated to a grand musical extravaganza featuring as many as 800 artistes taking part in the performance at the same time.
Besides traditional performances, Meiyang Chang of Indian Idol fame and Venetia Warshong enthralled the crowd with their numbers. The traditional performances of the state, known as ‘abode of clouds’, took centrestage before they showcased the cleanest village in Asia – Mawlynnong – in another special segment.
To sum up a near perfect musical evening, the city’s very own Shillong Chamber Choir took to the stage much to the delight of all present as harmony reigned supreme at the JN Complex. Fireworks, lighting and release of lanterns brought the over two-hour long function to an end.