Vegetarian fare & Bollywood songs mark PM Narendra Modi’s Uzbek banquet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to 5 central Asian countries and Russia.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 7, 2015 4:50 pm
Narendra Modi, Modi in Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan, Modi Uzbekistan, Modi foreign trip, Modi foreign visit, Narendra Modi banquet Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov in Tashkent (AP photo)

Official foreign engagements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi are often marked by two things: his personal taste and a distinct flavour of India at the event.

A banquet hosted in honour of the Prime Minister at Tashkent in the central Asian country of Uzbekistan on Monday evening was no different. It was marked by a host of vegetarian dishes on the menu accompanied by soulful music from India.

Being a strict vegetarian, PM Modi had a fare designed to his taste at the banquet. The dishes ranged from biryani pilaf, broccoli cream soup to steamed rice with vegetables. For dessert, there were fruits and berry cuts. The distinct taste of central Asia was evident in the menu. Even on the PM’s previous trips to China, France and Germany, food menus were largely vegetarian.

The food was accompanied by melodies performed by a live orchestra. Songs such as ‘Yeh desh hai veer jawanon ka’ sung in praise of brave Indian soldiers in the 1957 film ‘Naya Daur’ and and ‘O Meri Zohra Jabeen’, the popular track from the 1965 film ‘Waqt’ were played by the band. Foreign Ministry spokesperson even tweeted out a video of the song played at the banquet.

(App users can click here to see the video)

Ahead of the banquet, PM Modi said that his visit to the five central Asian countries was the ‘start of a new journey of an ancient relationship.’

“And, it has begun in the city of Tashkent. It is a city that echoes with the footfalls of history. It holds a special place in the hearts of Indians,” the PM said.

He also spoke about Tashkent’s special connection to India as it was here that former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, considered one of the country’s brave freedom struggle heroes, passed away nearly 50 years ago.

PM Modi also dwelt extensively on the close cultural relations between India and countries in central Asia.

“The timeless links between India and Central Asia were formed on the territory of Uzbekistan. India’s spiritual heritage influenced early life in this region. In turn, we see you imprint in our own cities and our daily life – in devotion and celebration, in art and architecture, in our music and food, in textiles and handicraft,” he said at the banquet.

At the start of the visit, PM Modi gifted Uzbek President Islam Karimov a specially-commissioned reproduction of Khamsa-i-Khusrau, by Amir Khusrau, a poet who wrote primarily in Persian and closely connected with India’s culture. The Prime Minister explained, in a tweet, that Amir Khusrau’s link with Uzbekistan was the fact that his father hailed from the central Asian nation.

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