TNPL Thiruvizha: Madurai welcomes Hayden with open arms

Madurai: Crowds flocked to the Gandhi Memorial Museum to enjoy an evening that entailed a host of games, food stalls galore and a special segment where former Australia cricketer Matthew Hayden enthralled one and all by participating in a few special activities on stage. The festive atmosphere thrilled the crowds as people were spoilt for choice. Fairy lights strung from trees lit up the ground which had people from all walks of life and age groups. People were involved in all the games which included archery, ball and hammer, balloon shooting, bowling, golf, mirror golf or the propeller game. If they wanted a peek into their future, they could go to the ever popular ‘kili josiyam’ (parrot reading tarot cards).
 

For those who were patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of Hayden, there were food stalls galore that kept them happy all evening. People flocked to buy Madurai’s famous ‘jigarthanda’, while the children opted for huge fluffy pink clouds of cotton candy. Other food on offer included popcorn, chaat items, beverage counters from Tata Gluco+ and a variety of ice-creams.
 

Comedian Vadivel Balaji had the crowd in splits with his stand-up comedy and he entertained them while they waited for the guest of honour to arrive. Singers Nikhil Mathew and Soundarya also wowed the crowd with their rendition of popular Tamil songs. People sang along to the hits and burst into laughter during the comedy segment.
 
Hayden entered to a thunderous applause and cheers from the local crowd who all tried to get a hand on his sleeve as he walked by in a yellow tee and the traditional veshti. Ramya hosted the evening with great fanfare and found an able sport in Hayden. The audience was more than happy to cheer Hayden on as he learned some ‘silambattam’ (stick-fighting) moves from Sangeetha, an expert.
 

Despite proclaiming that he had had a heavy lunch, Hayden participated in the idli-eating contest against Ramya with gusto. The one contest in which he was the runaway winner was doing push-ups. Still immensely fit at 45, Hayden outdid his younger opponents.
 

The crowd was at their loudest when Hayden attempted to re-enact famous dialogues by Rajnikanth, Ajith and Vijay. Putting on a good show, he did struggle with the Tamil words which only made the crowd laugh harder. The whole audience was actively involved in a group selfie. After a fun evening, Hayden finally departed to have hordes of fans chase after him in the hope of getting that elusive selfie. A memorable evening to remember and cherish, for sure for all those who made their way to the grounds!