Puttin’ On The Ritz: Obama’s First State Dinner

November 24: The President and First Lady await the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, before the first state dinner in the Obama White House. President Obama hosts his first state dinner at the White House for Indian Prime Minister Singh. Earlier in the day, Obama said, “This visit reflects the high esteem in which I and the American people hold your wise leadership. It reflects the abiding bonds of respect and friendship between our people, including our friends in the Indian American community who join us here today.”

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Prime Minister Singh arrives at the White House.

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the Obamas greet the Prime Minister and Mrs. Kaur. Michelle Obama wears a dress designed by Indian-born designer Naeem Khan, who told Larry King that it took three weeks and 40 people to complete the dress. Khan said he wanted to dress the First Lady in something “Indian, chic, simple but very glamorous.”

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The Obamas pose for pictures with their Indian guests.

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Attorney General Eric Holder was among the attendees at the dinner. Also on the guest list were director Steven Spielberg, journalist Fareed Zakaria and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.


Hours before the dinner, reporters are offered a sneak peek of a sample table setting Michelle Obama hired award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson to help the White House executive chef prepare the vegetarian meal.

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The dinner is held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House. In his toast, President Obama explained that the setting is meant to evoke images of India where events are “often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent.”

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A Marine Corps band plays before the arrival of the President and Prime Minister.

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Some of the event’s 338 invited guests.

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Guests watch award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, who headlined the post-dinner entertainment for the event.

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Marvin Hamlisch conducts the National Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra kicked off with a performance of “Summon the Heroes” by composer John Williams.

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Singh listens to the National Symphony Orchestra.

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President Obama toasts the guest of honor.

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