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11.25.2009

last night, the party was in d.c.

The first state dinner of the Obama White House was a big ol' Indian-themed bash -- the biggest social event of this presidency -- a lavish, high-glitz, star-studded affair in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Sounds like they showed him a good time: Obamas welcome guests with curry at state dinner:
Hours before guests arrived and in keeping with tradition, Mrs. Obama previewed the glamorous table settings in the State Dining Room. That's often the venue for such dinners, but not this time.

Instead, in an effort to show Singh how much the U.S. values relations with his country, the Obamas decided to serve dinner in a huge white tent on the South Lawn, with views of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial through clear panels.

It wasn't your everyday tent: This one had chandeliers suspended from the ceiling and beige carpet on the floor.

President Barack Obama, in his dinner toast, said the setting conjured images of India, where special events are "often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent." Singh, in turn, told the president he was overwhelmed by the Obamas' hospitality and said the president's election last year had been an inspiration to millions of Indians.

Magnolia branches native to both India and the U.S. adorned the tent's inside walls, along with ivy and nandina foliage.
The 338-person guest list was a assorted mix of Washington wonks, Hollywood A-listers, prominent figures from the Indian American community, and Obama friends, family and campaign donors. Guests included musician A.R. Rahman, spiritual adviser Deepak Chopra, director M. Night Shyamalan and PepsiCo chairman/CEO Indra Nooyi.

For the dinner, Mrs. Obama wore a sleeveless, gold and cream colored sheath dress with an overlay of silver and matching shawl by Naeem Khan. At the State Dining Room event earlier in the day, the first lady wore a skirt by Rachel Roy: Michelle Obama goes glam for state dinner (with a dress by little-known designer Naeem Khan).