Mumbai, Oct 30 (UNI) Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar came to Shivaji Park tonight, without his cricketing gears, but with just a piece of paper on which he had scribbled his late father Prof Ramesh Tendulkar's poem 'Prajakt'.
The occasion was the inauguration of 'Maharashtra Dharm', a six- day exhibition of the state's history, culture and literature at the historic ground associated with political rallies. The cultural programme has been organised by Raj Thackeray's outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
Speaking on the occasion, Sachin said he was happy to be back at Shivaji Park, situated in Central Mumbai, where he took his cricketing lessons.
Dedicating the poem 'Prajakt' to his father, the master blaster said his father passed away when he was playing the World Cup for India in 1999.
''I had returned home for the funeral and soon after joining the team again, I scored a hundred. Normally, whenever I score a half century or 100, I raise my bat and look up to the sky. On that day, I did the same thing, but I saw my father in the sky looking at me.
When I read this poem, I feel closer to my father and what I experienced that day,'' he added.
Sachin said when MNS president Raj Thackeray narrated the idea of this programme to him, he was elated and agreed to inaugurate it.
''But, when I could not even read two paragraphs properly with just Anjali in front of me, I had even told Raj Thackeray that I would not be able to come. But, then I learnt that the news of my presence was already out in the newspapers. So here I am,'' he said.
Chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar was also present in the audience for a brief while.
Earlier, explaining the concept of 'Maharashtra Dharm', Raj Thackeray said the need of the hour is to encourage and promote Marathi language among the new generation.
''If Marathi language is preserved, Marathi-speaking people will be benefited. This exhibition will be an annual affair,'' he added.
Raj recited a poem of noted poet late Kusumagraj 'Swatantrya devtechi vinavni'.
Apart from Sachin, dignitaries from Marathi film, television, media and literary world recited their favourite Marathi poems, written by Kavi Kusumagraj, Suresh Bhat, G D Madgulkar and Vasant Bapat.
Among others who participated in the recital of poems included actress Sonali Bendre-Behl, Ashwini Bhave, Sukanya Kulkarni, director Ashutosh Gowarikar, Mahesh Manjrekar, Jabbar Patel, actor director Sachin Pilgaonkar, noted actors Dilip Prabhavalkar, actor director Sanjay Mone, actors Ramesh Bhatkar, Arun Nalawade, Prashant Damle, Shreyas Talpade, Bharat Dabholkar and historian Babasaheb Purandare.
Editors of prominent Marathi dailies Lok Satta, Maharashtra Times and Lokmat as well as Navakal also recited their favourite poems.
'Maharashtra Dharm' has been organised by MNS Vidyarthi Sena from October 30 to November four. The exhibition comprises pictures and precints of ancient forts of the Maratha regime, weaponary of the Maratha period and rare pictures. There is also a book exhibition of Marathi literature.