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Exotic India comes alive in Washington

Now you can visit a street market in bustling Mumbai, a silk shop in Chennai or an airy palace in Rajasthan—all at once. You need only trek to the Kennedy Center in Washington to experience Maximum India, soon-to start three-week long Indian festival.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2011 22:16 IST

Now you can visit a street market in bustling Mumbai, a silk shop in Chennai or an airy palace in Rajasthan—all at once. You need only trek to the Kennedy Center in Washington to experience Maximum India, soon-to start three-week long Indian festival.

Alicia Adams, curator of the festival, said India is about maximum. A place, she said, with "the maximum number of people, the maximum number of possibilities, the maximum heat you could ever tolerate."

The festival would be an incredible blend of Indian music, cuisine, exhibits and other art forms like dance and theatre.

So, just before the festival begins, the curator, designer and executive chef of Maximum India Hemant Oberoi sheds light on what can be seen and eaten at the festival, reports the Washington Post.

Cuisine
Oberoi, a career chef, will lead the festival's major culinary component, transforming the Kennedy Center's two eateries into full-fledged Indian restaurants.

To perform this task, 12 chefs from India''s Taj Hotel restaurants have been selected for their expertise in Parsi, Maharashtrian, Bengali, South Indian, Gujarati and other regional cuisines.

Music
Roysten Abel, the Indian-born director of ‘The Manganiyar Seduction,’ bristles a bit when someone refers to his masterwork as a 'concert.;'

Though it features 43 musicians and a conductor, 'Manganiyar' is very much the eye-popping spectacle: Every musician—the dhol drummers, the singers, the men playing the accordion-like harmonium—performs in a lighted, red-walled cubical, part of a structure that is 36 feet wide and 21 feet high. When a note rings out, the lights on that musician''s box come to life, creating an effect that at once recalls ‘Hollywood Squares’ and the street-peddling of Amsterdam''s red-light district.

Also featured at Maximum India is another artist who blurs the boundaries of traditional Indian music: British-born rapper Panjabi MC, who rose to fame after teaming up with Jay-Z for a remix of ‘Beware of the Boys,’ an old bhangra folk song.

Exhibits
Forty incredible examples of India''s insatiable lust for gems—cuffs covered in countless polished rubies, a bird-shaped flask blanketed in diamonds, a diamond wedding necklace that hangs from head to knees—are headed to Washington.

Although the pieces in the exhibit are not vintage, Kasliwal favors age-old rose-cut diamonds and old-world traditions, so if you're not blinded by all the glitter, take a moment to check out the craftsmanship.

Dance and theater
During the next month, dozens of dancers are preparing to descend on the Kennedy Center, tradition bearers who "represent the top echelon" of the Indian dance world.