Traditional clothes, tilak ceremonies, mehandi and reading scriptures may not be new Navratri customs, but what adds novelty to this time’s festive season is that it’s not just Delhi-ites who are observing them, but also athletes from 71 other countries.
Participants at the Commonwealth Games Village were treated to the traditional tilak ceremony to mark the beginning of Navratri. “Players are not venturing out for security reasons, so we are trying to give them the festive flavour inside the village,” says Ashok Kumar, incharge of operations at the Games Village.
Dandiya performances by various troupes have also been lined up as part of the daily cultural programme. “The idea is to create a fun atmosphere,” adds Kumar. The players are enjoying every bit of it. “The celebrations are quite elaborate, and we’re loving it,” says Rashid Sarafu, a Nigerian athlete.
The Delhi government has also arranged for city tours to take athletes to culture hotspots like Dilli Haat, where the mood is even more festive. “Foreign athletes who have been there have indulged in mehandi and bought bangles and colourful dupattas,” says Rina Ray, principal secretary, Delhi government. “We have also distributed booklets that have the whole Ramayana in English,” she adds.