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India @ 60: Celebrating Indian spirit

art-and-culture Updated: Sep 24, 2007 18:18 IST
Liz Mathew
Highlight Story

There is dance and music, food and drink - and some business too - at a mini India in the heart of New York. And the vibrant city is pausing to say 'incredible', India @ 60.

The eponymous event to celebrate 60 years of India's independence, which got off to a colourful start at the Lincoln Centre here Sunday evening, is giving New Yorkers a taste of spicy Indian food, a dekko at Indian handicrafts and handlooms, and a glimpse of its rich traditions of folk and classical dance.

<b1>With numerous hoardings on Time Square and around the Central Park and colourful posters distributed on sidewalks, India seems to be the buzzword for the moment with the four-day cultural mela - organised by the ministry of tourism and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"It would have been a great loss if my Indian friend Neeta had not brought me here. I really enjoyed the dances. I heard that India is becoming big... its truly incredible," said Jennifer, a college student.

"The programme was good. It inspires me to study about that country. How colourful your country would be. But I heard that its economy is also doing well," added Jonathan, another student.

At the inaugural event Sunday, the who's who of Indian Americans sat along with political bigwigs from New Delhi.

The presence of four cabinet ministers - Pranab Mukherjee (external affairs), P Chidambaram (finance), Kamal Nath (commerce) and Vayalar Ravi (overseas Indian affairs) - was enough to indicate that India meant business.

While Pepsi Co CEO Indira Nooyi led the Indian Americans, Anil Kapoor represented Bollywood.

There were waves of applause when Senator Charles E. Schumer praised India's democracy and growth, deepening ties between US and India, and the contribution Indians working in this country are making to its growth.

"For India, the best is yet to come," Schumer announced.

The programme was a mix of traditional dance and art forms from across the country. But the specially invited guests appeared to have enjoyed the variety of Indian cuisine the most. There was matar paneer, dal bukhari, spicy chicken - and lots of wine and beer to wash it down.

New Yorkers can enjoy the flavours of India for some days. On the anvil are culinary demonstrations from various country at different places including Bryant Park, South Street Seaport, New York Public Library and Yale Club of New York City.

Indian fashion designers also are here to showcase their designs at special shows that accompanied by business meetings between Indian industry chiefs and their US counterparts.