Hit by organizational delays and controversies, the formal countdown to the 2010 Commonwealth Games began on Thursday with the launch of Queen's baton relay, which saw President Pratibha Patil making history by becoming the first Head of a State to attend such a ceremony.
The brief ceremony, held at the majestic Buckingham Palace showcased India's rich tradition through a cultural show before Queen Elizabeth II handed over the glittering baton to Patil amidst thunderous applause.
The Queen placed her message into the baton after receiving it from Commonwealth Games Federation Michael Fennell as a host of dignitaries watched the proceedings beamed live in India.
President Patil passed on the baton to Sports Minister of India MS Gill, who handed it over to Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi.
From Kalmadi baton reached the hands of first baton-bearer Abhinav Bindra, India's only Olympic Gold medallist.
With Indian music playing in the background air rifle shooter Bindra began the relay-run and handed over the baton to legendary middle-distance runner Lord Sebastian Coe, waiting just outside the gates of the Palace.
Coe is also Chairman of the Organising Committee of the 2012 London Olympics.
The baton passed through the hands of legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, the most successful female tennis player Sania Mirza, flying sikh Milkha Singh, Olympic bronze medal winners -- boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar -- and England's first Sikh cricketer Monty Panesar among other Indian sports personalities.
The Queen's Baton for the 2010 Commonwealth Games is a delicate mix of aesthetics and technology with an in-built location tracking system and a camera capable of sending images to the Games website.
After travelling to different member countries of the Commonwealth, the Baton will enter India through Wagah Border along Pakistan, 100 days before the start of the Games.
It will then be taken to all state capitals of the country before reaching the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi for the opening ceremony of the Games on October 3, 2010.
Earlier, dance, dresses and drums from different parts of India virtually turned the majestic Victoria Memorial into a mini-India at the start of relay.
A bunch of British students joined the celebrations chanting the Sanskrit verses from ancient Rig Veda.
As the sanskrit prayers speaking of unity and humanity of these students from St James school reverberated in the forecourt of the Buckingham Palace, the crowd joined in with encouraging cheers and claps for their effort.
The students provided perfect icing on the function by performing Indian classical dance forms Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and folk dances like Bhangra and Dandia in front of Queen Elizabeth II and President Pratibha Patil.