For the first time in the rich and varied history of the US presidential inauguration balls, there will be two India-related balls.
An Indian-American ball, sponsored by the non-profit group Indiaspora, and a Yoga Ball, hosted by Washington’s Yoga community, are among the dozens of events that will celebrate the commencement of President Obama’s second term.
The Indiaspora Ball, scheduled to be held at the Mandarin Oriental hotel near Capitol Hill on Saturday night, has attracted enthusiastic support from the Indian-American community.
As of Thursday, only “VIP” tickets, priced at $1,500 per person, were available, according the group’s website. The rest have been sold out.
The organisers have said the gala will showcase the best of the Indian-American culture, including cuisine from different parts of the country, and Bollywood music and dance.
The brain behind the Indiaspora Ball is an entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, MR Rangaswami, who co-founded the Sand Hill Group, a San Francisco-based firm that provides strategic management, investment and marketing services to the software industry.
He founded Indiaspora last year to “transform the success of Indian-Americans into meaningful impact in India and on the global stage.” In a recent interview, Rangaswami lamented that the “tremendous success” of Indians “in so many different fields” has not translated to “a similar level of influence or stature” for the community.
The “goal of Indiaspora is to raise the visibility of the Indian community which now makes up roughly 1% of the US population,” he stated.
Besides several Indian-American stalwarts, among them the California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a number of heavyweights from American politics are on the host committee of the ball, including Sen.
Mark Warner of Virginia and the governors of Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts.
While the Indiaspora gala is a black tie (or Indian formal) event, Yoga Ball is relatively downmarket, with tickets available for as little as $50. The starting ticket price for the former is $300.
Unlike other more traditional balls, yogis will begin theirs with a Yoga practice led by two local instructors. Vegetarian meals served by a local charity, and live music, meditation and kirtan are other attractions of the ball.
“Our goal is to offer the community here in the nation’s capital a chance to set the most positive intention possible for the new term, in hopes for a productive and cooperative future for local and national governments,” Yoga Ball’s founder and director Ajay Bhatt told The Washingtonian.
Even though the president is unlikely to attend either of the India-related balls, they will elevate the image of India and Indian-Americans in the United States and globally.
600 PRIVATE JETS
As in 2008, President Obama’s second inauguration will have plenty of star power. Apart from various federal and state officials and supreme court justices, a number of luminaries from coast to coast — from Wall Street to Hollywood and Silicon Valley — are expected to attend various inaugural events.
Three of the four living former US presidents are likely to attend the public swearing-in ceremony on Monday.
Hollywood will be represented by staunch Obama backer Eva Longoria, who is also a co-chair of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, among others.
The Washington Post reported that up to 600 private jets are likely to land at the Dulles International airport for the inauguration.
According to The Post, the airport, the busiest in the area, has allocated one of its runways to the high-flying guests arriving in Gulfstreams, Learjets and Piper Senecas.
In all, local authorities expect anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 people to attend the swearing-in ceremony on Monday. Obama’s first inauguration, because of its historic nature, drew approximately 1.8 million.