India win launches billion-person party

MUMBAI, April 2, 2011 (AFP) – A billion Indians launched the world’s biggest party Saturday, as their adored national team lifted the cricket World Cup, triggering celebrations and firework displays across the country. From the megacities of Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi to India’s rural heartland, where entire villages had gathered around television sets to watch the final, this cricket-obsessed nation went into delirious meltdown.

“The whole of India is not going to sleep tonight,” said Sania Singhvi, an 18-year-old college student from Mumbai, where the Wankhede Stadium, the match venue, was engulfed in a sea of dancing, cheering Indian fans.

Motorbikes with pillion passengers waving the saffron, white and green Indian tricolor roared up and down Mumbai’s sweeping Marine Drive promenade, weaving in and out of the traffic, as cars hooted their horns in accompaniment.

In the streets of the country’s financial capital, people danced and banged drums, cheered on by entire families who had come out onto their balconies and rooftops to watch the party unfold, chanting “India, India, India!”

Jaywant Nikam, a 50-year-old architect who was among the 32,000 spectators inside the sold-out stadium who watched