A public honour

In about five minutes’ time I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker, “Sri Chinmoy, a man of peace and a world-renowned athlete, is now going to present the prizes for the 20-kilometre walk. He will be escorted by the President of the All-India Veterans Association.”

At the centre of the stadium were three girls wearing beautiful saris - not cotton, but silk. They held golden dishes, and the medals were lying on the dishes. The first, second and third place finishers stood behind the girls.

There were also three musicians with bugles. They marched in from one side, and I was escorted to the centre of the stadium from the other side by the big shot.

The person who came in first stood on the top platform in the middle. The second and third place finishers were on either side. We faced the winners.

The man who escorted me would go to each girl to get the appropriate medal, and then give it to me. Then I would go and present the medal to the athlete.

The first one bowed halfway down. I put the medal on him like a garland and shook hands with him. Then I did this for the second and third place finishers. Then we all stood facing the audience.

I was on one end, and the President of the All-India Veterans Association was on the other end. The girls were standing near the President. Then the first place winner raised the hands of the second and third place winners, while the buglers played for two minutes.

When that was over I wanted to go, but Milka Singh said, “No, you have to wait. I want you to see the Prime Minister. She will come here in a few minutes. I will try my best to introduce you, but I can’t promise. Anyway, you can’t leave yet.” So I remained there with the other big shots waiting to meet the Prime Minister.

In five minutes again they announced my name. This time they said, “Sri Chinmoy of the United States will present the prizes for 400-metre hurdles. We are so happy to have him here. He will be escorted by the Commander of the Air Force.” So the Air Force Commander escorted me into the stadium.

Again there were three girls, the buglers and the winners. This time the Commander gave me the medals, and I gave them to the winners. In the 400-metre hurdles, the first place finisher in his age-group was my friend from Singapore, Chandra.

— 31 March 1983