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Glasglow Commonwealth Games 2014: opening ceremony has Scottish written all over it

Friday, 25 July 2014 - 6:35am IST | Place: Glasgow | Agency: dna

Opening ceremony has Scottish written all over it — from giant kilt to bagpipers and Scotch whiskey — Commonwealth Games gets off to impressive start
  • A general view as fireworks light up the sky during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on Wednesday, Shooter Vijay Kumar leads the Indian contingent at the opening ceremony; Queen Elizabeth II waves to the crowd; Dancers performe at the opening ceremony Getty Images, Reuters

It is always a tough job when you are competing, or at least you think you are, with your elder cousin. The odds are always stacked against you and so it was with Glasgow on the eve of the Opening Ceremony of the XX Commonwealth Games.

But at the end of the Ceremony lasting a little over two hours, plus the nearly hour-long prelude, Glasgow can be pretty proud of the product they came up with at Wednesday night's show.

In a single word, it was "Scottish" all the way. Right from the giant Kilt opening to reveal John Barrowman, the Scottish-American singer-actor-writer and presenter, to the bagpipers, haggis, Scotch whisky, golf, Scottish shortbreads, marmalade Fountain pens and the Kelvin Scales (unit of measurement of temperature in physical sciences), which are part of daily lives now, but were founded, discovered or invented by Scots or Glaswegians. All of them and much else found mention and visuals on the giant screen running from one side to other at the resplendent Celtic Park Stadium.

Alex Salmond, the first minister of Scotland, had promised the Glaswegians that the Opening would showcase the best of Scotland. What he surely must have all the above and this country's great 'gift' of Tunnock teacakes which were represented by 'Dancing Tunnock's Teacakes'.

Then were was representation of Dolly, the female Sheep, the first mammal to be cloned and which came from two Scottish scientists, Ian Wilmut and Meith Campbell and their team at the University of Edinburgh.

Barrowman and comedian Karen Dunbar's appearances were preceded by Ewan McGregor, 'Jedi' of the Star Wars fame, who sent in a pre-recorded message.

Rod Stewart appeared to a huge applause, more than once; and then there was Susan Boyle (take that Danny Boyle — remember London 2012) but she seemed to have forgotten her opening lines of Mull of Kintyre.

But the coolest message of the day came from 'outer space' – literally. Three astronauts speaking from 'a space station' , said very meaningfully, "Looking down, it's all one planet."

A little under 5,000 athletes are competing at these Games but only around two-thirds of that number was around at Celtic Park on Wednesday night – the prominent absentees being shooters, who are far off in Dundee.

The Parade of Nations was led by a Scottish representative, who did the job of a handler for the Scottish Terriers in a tweed jacket and sporting the name of each country.

The parade ended with the hosts Scotland bringing up the rear and their arrival was accompanied by what was surely the loudest cheers of the day.

The Queen's entry with the Duke of Edinburgh in a gleaming limousine, went around inside the stadium, was accompanied by a flypast by the world famous Red Arrows. And as usual, she was a big favourite with the crowds.

In these days, when the Scottish referendum issue is being heatedly debated, the nine Hawk aircrafts left behind them a British red-and-blue haze and not the Scottish white and blue!

Salmond had long back assured that he would not rake up the sensitive issue of 'Scottish Independence' at the Games or the Opening, stuck to his words, though he did welcome the "Commonwealth of nations" with: "Fàilte gu Alba! Welcome to Scotland!"

A laudable effort on part of the Scots, and the Glaswegians in particular was their association with UNICEF and to try and raise money.
A little before the main show, Scottish actor Ewan McGregor through a recorded video sent out of a message to the possible audience of over a billion people on TV to send a text to a pre-designated number 70333.

McGregor said, "Right now thousands of world-class athletes are here in Glasgow. And over the next eleven days they'll be doing their best to come first," he said. "But tonight, they're asking all of us watching to take a moment to think about the children in our Commonwealth who usually come last. Last to get healthcare. Last to get an education. Last to just get a fair chance in life."
The special text costs five pounds and the proceeds go to improving conditions for children in the Commonwealth.

Before athletes from each Commonwealth region entered the stadium, a video showing UNICEF's work in the area was played. Well-known faces appearing in the clips included Sachin Tendulkar, who represented India, Pussycats Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, for the Americas, and BBC presenter Reggie Yates who announced the arrival of athletes from the Caribbean.

Sachin Tendulkar, the ambassador for UNICEF, also sent his video message and it was shown live at the Celtic Park.

The Commonwealth is one place where Tendulkar is a much-revered figure — he even took part in the cricket competition at the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur. As the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador he spoke to the audience at Celtic Park through a pre-recorded message urging people to contribute to he development of the children around the world.

India's Olympic shooter, Vijay Kumar, had to make the 90-minute journey from Dundee to Glasgow to carry the Indian tri-colour into the Stadium at the Opening Ceremony. The shooters are housed in Dundee, where the competition will be held and so most of the shooters did not come for the Opening Ceremony.

The Indian contingent, as the previous hosts led the Parade of Nations and their arrival was accompanied by the 35,000 capacity crowd roaring 'Come on I-N-D-I-A .

Giving up the traditional Navy Blue and light blue, the men in the Indian contingent wore Black Blazers and Grey trousers but they did have the traditional 'Pagri' as the headgear. The women wore light green sarees and blazers to that of the men.

A distinct change seemed to be that ill-fitting kits were missing, though some athletes were said to have been absent because their kits did not come in time.

The Indian contingent was accompanied by distinctly and foot-tapping Indian Bollywood music.

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