iconimg Saturday, August 29, 2015

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 25, 2010
Efforts are on to ensure that the banquet hosted in honour of US President Barack Obama is unique — in scale as well as in substance. The banquet, hosted by President Pratibha Patil, is on November 8. The organisers are going all out to make it a special affair — both the 20-minute cultural extravaganza before the dinner as well as the spread served on the lawns.

The cultural event, showcasing the “essence of India”, will feature a nathaswaram performance, the Shillong Chamber Choir and Indian classical dances like Kathak and Mohiniyattam.

The Shillong Chamber Choir from Meghalaya, formed in 2001,  has already performed once at Rashtrapati Bhavan at the invitation of then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

“The idea is that we want to showcase the variety of India from north to south to east to northeast,” a senior government official said. Light background music will be played while dinner is served.

Though the final call on the menu is yet to be taken, it will go beyond the usual. “Again, we want to showcase the richness of Indian cuisine from various parts of the country,” an official said.

A usual state banquet has 80-90 invitees. For Obama, the number will be 150, including the delegation of the US President.

The standard operating procedure for such banquets will be in place. This includes a meeting between President Pratibha Patil and Obama for half an hour, assisted by their respective delegations.

Then at the Ashoka Hall, the delegations will be introduced to each other. Banquet speeches will be made by both Presidents and a toast raised before the dinner begins. After dinner, there will be a tete a tete between the Presidents, after which the host will see off the guests.