Guwahati: The crowd started trickling into the stadium from 1.30pm. By 5.30pm, when the official function kicked off, the stands were almost chock-a-block.
Bands from the Northeast – Salvator (Manipur), Still Waters (Sikkim), Purple Fusion (Nagaland), The Soul Rebels (Arunachal Pradesh), Boomarang (Mizoram) and others got the audience rocking since the afternoon.
The evergreen “Bob Dylan of the East” Lou Majaw in his trademark shorts and tee wowed the audience, followed by Priyanka Bharali, Mousam Gogoi and a Bihu troupe, Mayukh Hazarika’s The Brahmaputa Balladeers.
The 50-member Angelos Luit Choir, paid tribute to Bhupen Hazarika, performing the balladeer’s composition Mahabahu Brahmaputra. Singer Sangita Kakoti then performed with a contemporary dance troupe.
We’re talking about the finals of the South Asian Games, which was spectacular. As the curtains came down on the Games, the mood at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium was bittersweet and upbeat. There was optimism that the region would see more such events in future.
The two cities of the Northeast – Guwahati and Shillong – lived up to their often overlooked potential as worthy hosts of the multi-disciplinary international event.
“We have proved ourselves despite having a short time to upgrade the infrastructure and organise the Games so smoothly. The Games will promote peace among the participating countries and boost tourism and trade in south Asia,” Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said today while thanking all the stakeholders involved.
Union youth affairs and sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the chairman of the Games organising committee, thanked the people and the governments of Assam and Meghalaya for their cooperation. “This is a significant event as all the eight countries have united to play and promote peace in the south Asian region,” he said.
A host of dignitaries from the Northeast and some from the participating nations graced the occasion.
A band of the Sashastra Seema Bal performed the National Anthem amid a setting that had elements of the region’s wildlife and rural landscape. As they finished, Tikhor, the Games mascot, led the athletes of the eight participating nations – India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan – and the 1,200 volunteers into the stadium.
The ambience was electric with the loud speakers playing Ei Prithibi Ek Krirangan.
The next edition of the Games will be held in Nepal in 2018. According to protocol, the Games flag was handed over by the Indian Olympic Association to their Nepali counterparts. A cultural troupe from Nepal presented a glimpse of the rich culture of the Himalayan country.