Rajini stunts, Sanskrit names and more 'Indian' themes in opening ceremony

India arrive in Jakarta (1:09)

The Indian contingent arrived in Jakarta for the 2018 Asian Games (1:09)

It's not hard (even if it is admittedly a bit gauche) to find Indian connections in Indonesia. Take the Asian Games Opening ceremony, for instance. Pop singer Ariel, who closed the show by crooning the theme song of the Games, is the lead singer of the band Peter Pan - known to Bollywood fans as the famous Indonesian mine from which Pritam sourced some of the greatest hits of his career.

But that's not all. A clip shown at the start of the show features President Joko Widodo, seemingly tired of Jakarta's infamous traffic, getting onto his bike, riding through a maze of vehicles, over a high-rise, before screeching into the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. Indians would have understood why this most typically Rajnikanthesque of stunts drew perhaps the loudest applause aside from the Indonesian team's march past.

Widodo has an even stronger Indian connect. About a month ago, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country, he was informed that he and Widodo's grandson had something in common -- the two-year old was named Jan Ethes Srinarendra.

Although a predominantly Muslim region today, it's commonplace for Indonesians from Jakarta and its home island of Java to have Sanskritized names. This tradition comes from centuries of cultural mixing of these islands with traders and rulers from India. It's also a custom the citizens of this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country are particularly proud of. "It doesn't have anything to do with religion but we know these names belonged to good and noble people from our culture and it is good to be named after them," says Kunti Wulandari, a volunteer at the Asian Games.

More influences are visible elsewhere. Garishly painted posters for the popular energy drink 'Kuku Bima Ener-G' can be seen on buses around the city. And if classical Javanese had an estimated 25,000 loanwords from Sanskrit, the modern language spoken here is literally known as Bahasa (derived from the Sanskrit word, bhasha).

There were plenty of Sanskritized names and influences during the opening ceremony. The entire program in the stadium named after the country's first president Sukarno was directed by Wisnuthama, a famous Indonesian TV mogul. Susi Susanti, the 1992 Olympic gold medallist lit the flame and a giant Garuda - the heraldic symbol of the modern Indonesian state. Cynics would even suggest that the jam Widodo got stuck in probably took place on Gatot Subroto, a perennially clogged central artery, named after a much-decorated Indonesian army general, named after the Mahabharata's Ghatotkach.

What would these references to Indian history and mythology mean to Indian athletes busy in the task of winning medals? There's something for them too. Perhaps inspiration could come from the name of the city itself. Jakarta is derived from the Sanskrit words Jaya (victory) and Karta (deeds). Indian supporters would hope to see some victorious deeds in the coming days.