Guests at prime minister-designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in on Monday will have the option of being ferried from the parking lot to the forecourt in buggies. Horses from the Presidential Bodyguards will be lined up in their honour while Air Force and Naval bands will play patriotic songs.
The menu of the banquet to be hosted at Rashtrapati Bhawan after the oath-taking, for about 30 people, will mirror the diversity of Indian cuisine. It will include Potoler Dolma from West Bengal, Kela Methi Nu Shaak from Gujarat and Chicken Chettinad from Tamil Nadu.
The high tea menu in the forecourt will be vegetarian but in the North Court and South Court, non-vegetarian kebabs will be served for the eight SAARC delegations, MPs and ministers.
While the Rashtrapati Bhawan guest wing will be thrown open for foreign delegations ahead of the banquet, none will spend the night there.
“This is the biggest arrangement that Rashtrapati Bhawan has ever made. In the past, our guest list has rarely gone beyond 1,200. Logistics is a challenge but we have looked into every minute detail. Twelve buggies will ferry guests who cannot walk from the parking, there will be Naval and Air Force bands playing patriotic songs and PBG horses standing guard. The evening banquet will be for about 25-30 guests,” said Omita Paul, secretary to the President.
Given the occasional downpours over the past few days in Delhi and the rain forecast for Monday, preparations for alternative arrangements are on in full swing in the Durbar Hall too. That could be a bit of squeeze though, as it has a seating capacity of just about 500 as opposed to the forecourt, where arrangements have been made to seat 4,000 people.
Even if some guests choose to stand, the historic hall where Jawaharlal Nehru took oath as prime minister cannot hold more than 750-800 guests.
Paul said there is no arrangement for a waterproof shamiana, “though we can get some umbrellas if required”. She conceded that if proceedings do shift indoors to Durbar Hall, accommodating the guests would be a challenge.
The banquet dinner menu will also comprise Chilled Melon Soup, Tandoori Aloo, Arbi Kebab, Chicken Hazzari, Galauti Kebab, Prawn Stew, Jaipuri Bhindi, Dal Makhni, and Birbali Kofta Curry. Mango Shrikhand, cut fruits, pineapple halwa and sondesh will be served for dessert. In addition, there will be tea, coffee and paan.
The decision to serve mostly vegetarian snacks at high tea was “voluntary”, Paul said.
Everything will be prepared in-house at the Rashtrapari Bhawan kitchen.