For the first time in the history of the Khelo India Youth Games, a torch relay has been organised by the hosts, the Government of Haryana, to promote the Games and spread the joy of sport across the state.
Called Raahgiri, the run started on May 7 from Panchkula and will make a grand return, entering the Tau Devi Lal Stadium during the opening ceremony. With some of Haryana’s top sportspersons and other dignitaries participating in the torch relay, Raahgiri is getting lot of support.
The KIYG mascots, Vijaya the Tiger, Jaya the Blackbuck, and the Haryana mascot Dhakad the Bull (which translates to strength and power in Haryanavi), are travelling around the state in a specially designed Canter truck also named Dhakad on Wheels.
Top political leaders, government officials, sports stars and students were present at the events in Rohtak, Rewari, Karnal, Kaithal, Jind, Jhajjar, Hisar, Fatehabad, Charkhi Dadri, Bhiwani and Ambala.
Not new to Haryana, Raahgiri events are often organised for public awareness. A Raahgiri Day was observed in Gurgaon (now Gurugram) as part of a car-free day on November 17, 2013.
“For KIYG 2021 roadshow, around 3,000 people, including students from local schools and colleges and sports enthusiasts, gathered at selected venues to participate in sporting activities to highlight the 25 disciplines that will be a part of the games,” said Pankhuri Gupta, Senior Consultant, Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs, Haryana.
Those present at events were Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who flagged off the second leg of the campaign at Gurugram on May 10. Cultural performances were presented by the Haryana Sanskritik Sangam at Rewari, the organisers informed in a release on Monday.
At Rohtak, the torch was received by chief guest Dr. Arvind Sharma, a Member of Parliament, as performer Masoom Sharma entertained the crowds. At Hisar, youngsters demonstrated skills in gymnastics, boxing, judo, badminton and wrestling even as Ranbir Gangwa, Deputy Speaker, Haryana, received the torch.
KIYG Raahgiri was conceptualised by Dr Amit Agrawal, Additional Principal Secretary to the Haryana CM and Director General, Information, Public Relations and Languages Department, Pankaj Nain, IPS, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Khelo India, Department of Sports & Youth Affairs and Director/Special Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs Department, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India and Pankhuri Gupta.
Even as north India reeled under a heatwave, care was taken to ensure that all Raahgiri events were held after 6 pm, with coolers installed at the venues, said Gupta.
Sports For All, the agency managing Raahgiri and sports officials of each district as well as top district officials, including deputy commissioners, MC commissioners, and sports officials were involved in ensuring the success of the events.