The Queen's Baton Relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games on Saturday continued to experience Punjabi warmth at its best as it moved along with a big convoy of cars and jeeps amid tight security in the state.
The baton arrived in India on Friday morning at the Attari border check-post between India and Pakistan amid camaraderie between leaders, sportspersons and people from both countries.
The baton, which was kept at Amritsar overnight, left from Company Bagh on the top of an open vehicle along with a big convoy of cars and jeeps amid tight security.
People thronged on both sides of the busy National Highway-1, between Amritsar and Jalandhar, to witness the spectacle.
Jarnail Singh, a 62-year-old former athlete, said: "We were waiting here since 9 a.m. for the arrival of the baton. I have come with my two grandsons as I want them to understand the significance of the Commonwealth Games. Such moments are very rare and we do not want to miss them at any cost."
"There is a marriage-like atmosphere in Jalandhar since morning. We are very happy and feeling very proud that the Queen's Baton Relay is crossing from here. I've taken a half-day leave from my office to have a glimpse of the baton," said Mayank Aggarwal, a young bank executive.
On reaching Jalandhar, Raja Sidhu, nodal officer of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the Queen's Baton Relay, took the baton to the dais and it passed through the hands of nearly 30 sportspersons from Punjab.
It will travel through the state with a big convoy of cars and jeeps.
"In Punjab, the baton is travelling with a big convoy of cars and jeeps that have been provided by Tata Motors. The baton will travel by road in different vehicles," Priya Singh Paul, who is heading the public relations segment of the relay, said.
So far, the baton has travelled nearly 170,000 km through nearly 70 Commonwealth countries before arriving in host country India for the 2010 Games.
By the end of its journey, the baton would have travelled over 190,000 km, through different modes of transport across land, air and sea, in 340 days. This will make the baton relay 2010 one of the longest relays in the history of the Commonwealth Games.
"The baton started from Amritsar at 9.35 a.m. We then reached Punjab Armed Police complex in Jalandhar. Around 250 sportspersons of national and international repute will carry the baton all across Punjab - 40 to 50 in each city where the baton stops," Sidhu said.
He added: "From Jalandhar, it will move towards Maharaja Ranjit Singh police academy in Phillaur. Then it will reach Ludhiana - the industrial hub of Punjab. There will be a break from 1.30-2.30 p.m. for lunch. Then the baton starts its journey towards Patiala."
The baton is scheduled to reach Patiala by 4 p.m. It will be kept there overnight in the museum of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose National Institute of Sports.
Cultural programmes and various activities would be held to welcome the baton in all the cities of Punjab where it will stop, Sidhu said.
The 2010 Commonwealth Games, shceduled to be held between Oct 3-14, are the biggest sporting extravaganza being hosted by India after the 1982 Asian Games held in New Delhi.