Friday, Dec 19, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
The host for the evening, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, himself greeted and received most of the invitees who turned up for the programme in time. There was an air of friendliness in the air as cutting across party lines, Members of Parliament sat together in a relaxed mood through most of the hour-long programme.
The camaraderie was also clearly evident in the front row where Mr Shekhawat sat flanked by the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani; Chief Justice of India, V.N. Khare; Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi; and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Najma Heptulla. Alongside them sat the former President, R. Venkataraman; former Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral; Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, P.M. Sayeed; Union Health Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and senior Congress leader, Pranab Mukherjee.
The evening got off to a start with "Jeevanam Jeevanam,'' a Bharatnatyam dance performance by renowned exponent, Alarmel Valli.
The rendition which sought to impress the importance of water in our lives lent a festive touch to the celebration. And Valli followed it up with a faster-paced "Swaralaya''.
This performance was followed by an enchanting folk dance and music performance from Gujarat by Aavishkar group whose first presentation was "Garbo'' in reverence to Jagdamba or Ma Shakti. The performance had colourfully dressed women dancing with earthen pots, lamps and cloth shades on their heads. This was followed by "Dangi Kahri'' and "Dandiya Raas'' which reflected on the rich cultural heritage of Gujarat.
And the evening was rounded up by the Langas and the Manganyars of Mr Shekhawat's State of Rajasthan who impressed the audience with their sonorous singing and melodious compositions.
Besides a large number of Ministers and Members of Parliament, the programme was also attended by a large number of officials from the Diplomatic corps, with probably the most well-versed in Indian culture among them being the Pakistan High Commissioner, Aziz Ahmed Khan.
Speaking on behalf of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which organised the event, its president, Najma Heptulla, said the programme was only a manifestation of the various cultures and sought to present just a glimpse of what India is. Thereafter, the curtains were drawn on the colourful function with felicitation of all the artists by the dignitaries.
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