India embraces vuvuzela
New Delhi - The vuvuzela trumpets that became the droning soundtrack to the Soccer World Cup in South Africa are to make a comeback at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Vuvuzelas provoked strong emotions in South Africa, with some fans loving the distinctive low-pitched bellow while others - including many players, coaches and commentators - driven to distraction.
About 10 000 plastic vuvuzela horns have already been sold in Delhi through official merchandising outlets at a cost of 250 rupees (5.5 dollars) each.
"Both Indian and foreigners have been showing a lot of interest, and sales are very good," Jitendra Dang, who runs a stall at the athletes' village, told AFP.
"It feels that their popularity after South Africa is continuing in India."
Vuvuzelas became the unofficial symbol of the World Cup, but they drowned out crowd chants and made it nearly impossible for players to communicate with each other.
The horns have since been banned by UEFA, European football's governing body, and by several English Premier League club grounds, as well as at many other sporting events.
Indian sports fans are known for their passion - especially at cricket games - but tickets are still available for most Games events and it is uncertain if venues will fill with the vuvuzela's monotone blast.
Suresh Kumar, chairperson of the Games' official merchandising company Premier Brands, said 50 000 vuvuzelas had been imported from China and 10 000 had already been bought from stalls, shops and from mobile vans.
"People here like them because in India we associate celebrations with noise," he told AFP. "Festivals like Diwali are always very loud.
"Vuvuzelas are the most popular item we are selling. We expect the rest to go by the middle of the Games. And if we have a shortage, we can't get any more because they were ordered from China."
The origins of the vuvuzela - and the word's meaning - are unclear, but many believe they were first made from a sheet of metal, and were only popularised in South African sports stadiums in recent years.
Harris Mbulelo Majeke, South Africa's High Commissioner in Delhi, showed locals last week how to blow the horn with a long, loud blast.
"We are going to make a lot of noise. We are going to have lots of fun," he said. "We are going to blast the stadiums with vuvuzelas."