The spectators, ranging from locals to foreign tourists, started gathering around the stadium hours before the opening of the Games was announced by the country’s first female President Bidhya Devi Bhandari
The South Asian Games 2019 was officially inaugurated through a grand ceremony at Dasharath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu Sunday, showcasing the rich tradition and culture of Nepal with colourful and diverse performances.
Buddha, Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath and Shiva were among the religious leaders and Gods featured during the ceremony, which lasted more than three hours.
The spectators, ranging from locals to foreign tourists, started gathering around the stadium hours before the opening of the Games was announced by the country’s first female President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
Just before the official inauguration, the presenters reminded the audience about the country being the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, before giving a brief account of the past 12 editions of the Games that were first inaugurated in Kathmandu in 1984.
The Bangladesh contingent was the first to enter the stadium to begin the march-pasts, followed by Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and lastly Nepal.
A couple of performers in blackbuck (the Games’ mascot) costumes led the march through traditional lakhe dance, which is a part of the culture of the Newar people, the historical inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley.
Five female performers depicting the Panchakanya or Pancha Kumari were in front of each of the contingents of Bangladesh, Bhutan and India, while depictions of Pancha Buddha were in front of Maldives, and Astamatrika depictions were in front of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
One of Nepal’s most successful Olympic athletes and four-time SA Games gold-medalist Deepak Bista lit the flame on the cauldron after a torch relay including Olympians Baikuntha Manandhar, Rajendra Bhandari, Nayana Shakya, Umesh Maskey and Debu Thapa.
The audience was enchanted by a 30-member traditional instrumental band called Pancha Baja on the ground, as well as by a band in the gallery. Human chains of thousands performers on the two sides of athletics track formed the shape of Pashupatinath on one side and Swambhunath on the other.
SA Games song was performed by five renowned local singers, including Kunti Moktan, Ananda Karki, Satya Raj Acharya and Indira Joshi. The performance was followed by a three-minute laser light show displaying the blackbuck in all sports.
One of the most entertaining parts of the event was the traditional dance performance afterwards, which included separate performances with the performers dressed as Buddha, Shiva, Krishna and others.
Around 15,000 performers from the Nepal Army, Nepal police and Armed Police Force and others were involved. The ceremony concluded with fireworks at a venue that was once again hosting the Games after 20 years.