When BSF’s camel band played ‘Vaishnava janato’ for Obama

November 8th, 2010 - 9:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) The popular camel-mounted band of the Border Security Force (BSF) enthralled the Obamas as it played Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan, “Vaishnava janato”, at a private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Barack Obama, a self-confessed disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, stood in rapt attention listening to the bhajan and enjoyed the camel band’s presentation,” a BSF official told IANS.

When Obama reached Manmohan Singh’s residence for the dinner Sunday - half an hour ahead of schedule - 30 camel-mounted BSF personnel were present at the gate to welcome the US first couple.

“The contingent regaled the Obamas by playing bugles and trumpets in tune with the tinkling bells on their camels,” a BSF official said.

That is when the band belted out Gandhi’s favourite bhajan, “Vaishnava janato, tene kahiye je peerh parayee janey re”.

“The BSF camel contingent showcases our legacy and tradition. It is a mix of heritage and modernity. Even the Indian delegates were bowled over by the camel contingent’s performance,” the official added.

Sam Pitroda, currently advisor to the prime minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, said: “The BSF camel contingent was magnificent and it was a treat for the eyes.”

Impressed by the unique welcome by the camel band, an American delegate present at the dinner said: “We need to learn from Indians the unique way of welcoming the guest.”

The uniforms the men wear is traditional and that has not changed since the camel contingent was raised by Maharaja Ganga Singh, the then ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Bikaner, in the early 1900s.

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