Obama and Michelle Celebrate Diwali with Mumbai Kids

MUMBAI: “Hello! Namaste! Good Morning!”, said a beaming 49-year-old Obama to the media as he entered the venue wearing black trousers, a matching tie, a spotless white shirt with folded sleeves and without the formal jacket.

Imparting a touch of informality, US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle on Sunday danced spiritedly to a foot-tapping Marathi folk song as they participated in symbolic Diwali festivities with children at a city school.

The US first couple took a break from their formal engagements to savour dance presentations by youngsters and visit a science exhibition at the Holy Name High School, close to the Hotel Taj Mahal where they are staying.

The Obamas, who lit a lamp to mark the celebrations, were greeted by the students in traditional Indian attire as they interacted with the children, shaking hands and posing for photographs. The students were seen gleefully clicking the couple’s pictures using cellphone cameras.

Both Obama and Michelle, 46, attired in a pink top and grey-check skirt, sat through the dance performance by the students and could not resist the temptation to join them to shake a leg when invited.

Sporting broad smiles, the visiting dignitaries watched with keen interest the foot-tapping ‘Koli’ song and dance, a folk art form of coastal Maharashtra, clapping and cheering the children. The fun-loving Kolis (fishermen) are known to be the first inhabitants of the Mumbai city.

At first, it was Michelle who showed her dancing skills by matching the steps with the children. When Obama told the children in a lighter vein that he had not been asked to join the celebrations, he was pulled in by the students and he soon began swaying on the floor of the hall bedecked with fresh flowers and leaves.

The couple mingled freely with the children, their parents and teachers for a good five minutes, happily signing autographs and posing for photographs.

Salman Khurshid, minister of state for corporate affairs and minister-in-waiting for Obama, was seen explaining the significance of performances to the US President.

Obama had become the first US President to celebrate Diwali at White House last year.

Earlier, the US President and the First Lady were taken around an exhibition by the students based on themes on environment, including dangers of global warming, the benefits of wind energy and rainwater harvesting.

“A tree a day keeps global warming away,” Obama said to the waiting media.

One of the students later said Obama liked their dance and called it “graceful, nice and beautiful”. “Mr Obama liked our dance very much. He danced with us, he also did the Koli dance and ‘diya’ dance,” he said.


  1. karen walker says

    What a marvelous video. Thank you!

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