Entertainers perform during the opening ceremony for the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in India.

New Delhi - Breathtaking and captivating - that was how Myra Joshi summed up her experience on Sunday of watching the gala opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at the jam-packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

“I loved the festive atmosphere,” gushed the 23-year-old management student. “It felt as if I was on another planet, what with the amazing play of lights, laser and fireworks.”

Joshi's comments reflected the mood of the 60 000-strong crowd which braved multiple security checks, long waits in queues and stifling heat to watch the entertainment-packed programme.

The newly-renovated stadium, boasting of a unique membrane roof and a multi-level seating arrangement, was packed to its capacity as the spectators lapped up the three-hour show with glee and gaiety.

“Today I felt proud to be an Indian,” said 75-year-old Ramlal Gupta. “We proved to the world that we can pull off a world-class show without any glitches. I think we were able to match the best in the world.”

School-going twins Ritika and Radhika also gave their thumbs-up to the event.

“Three cheers for India,” the 12-year-olds said in unison. “We loved the helium balloon the most. We are going to tell all our other friends who could not make it here today about our once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We were running out of patience initially when we had to wait for nearly three hours for the show to begin but forgot all about it once the show started.”

For 16-year-old Shikha Saini it was a dream come true to be able to watch the eclectic show and soak in the atmosphere at the stadium, awash with lights of various hues and reverberating with foot-tapping music.

A wearying, marathon walk up to the main entrance more than three hours ahead of the start of the show and an unrelenting sun did little to deter her spirit.

“I had to see this no matter what,” she said, flashing a bright smile while wiping the sweat off her forehead.

“Our country is hosting such a huge event after so many years. I didn't want to miss the chance of watching the opening ceremony.”

The last big-ticket event India hosted was the Asian Games back in 1982.

Saini, dressed in a shimmering pink frock with sequins and embroidery, was accompanied by her father, a retired Delhi government official.

But his daughter's enthusiasm failed to rub off on him.

“The whole idea of reaching the venue at two in the afternoon for a show that starts only at seven in the evening defies logic. I would have liked it to be more organised so that spectators did not have to wait for so long,” he said. - AFP