Celebration of all things Indian as natives return

New Delhi, Jan 10 Bollywood artistes clad in their glittering best, hordes of security guards, expatriates aplenty and flowing food and wine marked the first celebration of the annual reunion of the Indian diaspora here.

On a nippy January evening, Indians emigrants from Fiji to the US gathered on the sprawling lawns of the Talkatora Stadium to celebrate all things Indian and indulge in plenty of back patting.

Chaos reigned supreme at most of the entrance gates. Since the invitees had colour-coded cards, there was confusion about where to enter from and where to proceed. The numerous security wasn't any help. When five guards were asked which number gate they were guarding, each of them gave a different response!

The confusion did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the returned natives, who first took their time savouring the sights and smells at stalls laden with Indian food from different states, and then trooped to the concert venue.

Dhruv Sampat, a college student from Zambia at the concert, waxed eloquent about how friendly everybody he had come into contact with had been.

"But the shock of my visit was the traffic and the huge population. Zambia has a population of 10 million and the Indian community has 6,000 people, so visiting a land of a billion people is a unique experience," Sampat told IANS.

Lilach Chordekar, a Jewish Indian from Israel, said she had visited the country of her roots in 1997 as well and there seemed to have been a lot of progress since then. Delhi looked more developed and cleaner.

Chordekar, who is a die-hard fan of Amitabh Bachchan, was excited about the Bollywood aspect in the evening's entertainment.

India's glamorous candyfloss factory was the flavour of the evening, whether it was among the non-resident Indians or the many residents who were present.

While a Mauritian dance group was performing at the beginning of the show, a Delhi resident who had come with her children leaned over and anxiously asked: "Won't they have any Indian performances, especially from Bollywood?"

And when the troupe came on again, an accented voice from the back row yelled: "Not Mauritius again!, where's Bollywood!"

But the touted Bollywood aspect of the programme turned out to be a dampener, with starlet Isha Kopikkar the only actor to represent the star brigade.

However, hit songs from recent films, performed by artists ranging from Mansi Scott to Hariharan to Sunidhi Chauhan, got the loudest applause.

When Hariharan went from his soulful rendering of "Roja" to the peppy "Chappa Chappa Charka Chale", a group of excited expatriates in the front rows got up and began dancing, while others loudly applauded. Sunidhi, clad in a sequinned pink top, led her troupe through some energetic renderings of Hindi numbers.

The Chutney group from Trinidad and Tobago played, what else, Bollywood music with calypso beats. Dressed in glittering red, lead singer Rikki Jai crooned: "My mother only quarrelling, She wann me find a Dulahin (bride), One who do all the washing and cooking!"

The takeoff on the stereotypical Indian mother anxious to find a bride for her boy was followed by a song whose chorus was the popular "Om Shanti Om". Jay's partner Draupadi also did something filmy, ala Bollywood. Dressed in glittering purple and silver, she saucily sashayed while crooning a peppy number.

The show began late, in true Indian style. Which ensured that by the time the big star of the evening, Sonu Nigam, made an entry, several people had left the spacious auditorium for the cosy comfort of home. Those still around, however, gave the music industry's poster boy rapturous applause.