London/Melbourne, Oct 4 : "India has arrived" -- this summed up the international media comments on the dazzling opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi yesterday.
Newspapers in two major Commonwealth countries, Australia and Great Britain, used terms like 'An ancient land opens its heart to the world', 'India opens doors to the world at opening ceremony' and 'India sweeps aside Games shame' to describe the two-hour cultural extravaganza that unfolded at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium last night.
People across Britain watched the ceremony live on BBC and were all praise for it with NRI Industrialist Lord Swraj Paul summing up the public reaction by stating, "India has done itself proud. It was a great show." 'The Guardian' newspaper said it was a moment of national pride for India, which had drawn flak for the troubled build-up to the Games.
"'India has arrived': spectacular ceremony opens Commonwealth Games," read the newspaper's headline. "Concerns of recent weeks forgotten as dazzling event launches games amid atmosphere of national pride and celebrations," it said.
"At exactly two minutes past seven tonight, a huge inflatable blimp rose slowly and smoothly into the hot air above Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to the sound of hundreds of traditional drums, pipes and conch shells, and the cheers of 65,000 people. "This was the moment that 1.2 billion people there are few in India who were still unaware of the event had been waiting for," it added.
'The Daily Telegraph' marvelled at how smoothly the ceremony was conducted after all the organisational goof-ups that marred its run-up.
"No collapsing scenery or malfunctioning sound system. No fluffed lines, botched choreography or missed cues and not a single stray dog in sight. The preparations for the XIXth Commonwealth Games may have been an unmitigated disaster but India certainly knows how to put on a show," it said.
"A dazzling, colourful, high-octane opening ceremony that was part Bollywood, part cultural extravaganza, did much to dispel the nightmares of the past fortnight, thrilling a sell-out crowd in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium as well as the athletes and officials from 71 Commonwealth nations.
"It even managed to start on time, to the very second, proving there are some deadlines that Games organisers are capable of meeting," the newspaper said taking a dig at the missed venue-completion deadlines that threatened to derail the Games at one stage. 'The Daily Mail' was also effusive in its praise of the ceremony which showcased the centuries-old Indian culture to a packed crowd.
"Commonwealth Games kick off in style with stunning opening ceremony... but the real test lies ahead," the newspaper said.
"The XIX Commonwealth Games crawled up off the canvas last night with a display of pageantry and technical wizardry that, finally, projected the image India craved on to two billion television sets around the world.
"And not a single tier of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium fell down. The bungling organisers promised it would be all right on the night, and so it proved with this sparkling opening ceremony.
"In the stadium - possibly 10,000 short of its 60,000 capacity - you sensed India wanted a pat on the back, and to cement their image as an emergent economic powerhouse despite the deservedly bad press they received over the last few weeks," it added.
The newspaper also made a mention of the jeers that greeted Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi, who had drawn massive criticism for the floundering run-up to the Games.
"...the crowds' anger at the alleged corruption and incompetence of the politicians was clear when the chairman of the Organising Committee, Suresh Kalmadi, had part of his speech drowned out by derision," it said. The reaction in Australia was also positive after being stinging in its criticism of the Games' preparation.
"India put on its best face on Sunday night and pulled off a brilliant opening ceremony that was extraordinary in its ambition and execution. It was everything the organisers had promised and more - an energetic celebration of all India has been and all it intends to be," read 'The Daily Telegraph'.
"The kick-off to Delhi 2010 was an historic event that well and truly answered the question on everyone's lips over the past two months: "Can they get it finished on time?"
"Delhi's extravaganza more than favourably compared with the great opening ceremonies of recent times," it added. 'The Sydney Morning Herald' said the ceremony was well beyond what could have been expected after the shoddy build-up.
"Delhi's Commonwealth Games has managed yet another surprise, with the opening ceremony defying expectations last night to start on time before going off without a hitch to delight a crowd of 50,000 with a rich and exciting pageant befitting a country as vast and populous as India," the newspaper said.
"The ceremony to celebrate India's amazing cultural diversity took place behind a thick drape of security with soldiers and police outside Jawaharlal Nehru stadium matching the crowd of around 50,000 for numbers, if not for noise," it said. 'The Australian' said it was a ceremony that made India's "troubles seem so far away."
"After a lead-up plagued by terror threats, a bridge collapse, a shambolic village, the first case of dengue fever and more, India delivered a brilliant and lively opening ceremony," it said. "A vibrant celebration of 5000 years of Indian culture - with just a hint of Bollywood - was showcased in a performance involving more than 6000 artists.
"There were no visible glitches. India delivered, and all 71 nations took part in the march despite threats by some countries to pull out," it added. The newspaper also lauded the sartorial sense of the 619-strong Indian contingent that walked into the stadium in traditional dresses. "India has won the first unofficial gold medal of the Games - for best team uniform," it said.
"Indian Games officials should feel proud of the opening ceremony, classy and showy but somehow warmer and less contrived than the Beijing experience. No collapsed bridges. No slithering snakes. No collapsing roof and, blow me down, before a late blow-out she almost ran on time. "The Indian athletes looked like royalty in their smart traditional maroon tops with gold braided scarves. Slick and sensational," it added. PTI