Several Indian Americans join Obama at inaugural ball

Washington: Several gorgeous saris and Nehruvian jackets were to be seen at US President Barack Obama's inaugural ball, as a number of Indian Americans made it to the select list of invitees to the prestigious event, reflecting the emergence of this influential community at the national centre stage.

"The Indian American political tiger has arrived," said Tobby Chaudhuri, a White House advisor and a veteran political strategist as he danced with his wife Ruby on the floor, celebrating Obama's second inauguration.

Chaudhuri, who was among the few Indian Americans to have been invited to the inaugural ball, said the community has emerged as a force to reckon with at the national level be it political, social or administrative spheres.

"The challenge is to sustain this momentum," Chaudhuri told PTI on the dance floor of the inaugural ball.

Arun Rao, a senior White House official from the Department of Justice, said that Obama has brought in his administration people from diverse section of the society.

There is a diverse representation in his Administration, he said, standing with his wife, attired in a sari.

Obama has the distinction of appointing the largest number of Indian Americans in any presidential administration, he pointed out.

Eminent Indian American chef, K N Vinod, was excited about attending the first inaugural ball of his life, with his wife.

"Hopefully the worst is behind us. Hope the economy would improve," he said.

"In the last four years the economy has been a very tough one for the small businesses one step forward and one step backward," said Vinod, who has been to the White House kitchen several times in the first four years of the Obama Administration. He says Obama loves Indian food.

Ahead of the inaugural ball, Vinod said it took him quite a while to decide what he should wear for the event – a tuxedo or a Nehruvian jacket.

"Finally, I settled with the latter," he said. His wife Nisha Vinod joined him in an orange sari.

Several hundred people attended Obama's inaugural ball where the first couple danced to Jennifer Hudson singing "Let's stay together".

Obama aand Michelle danced for about six minutes and left the stage soon after waving to the cheering crowd.

"Michelle Obama, you look great," yelled Gurpreet Singh, an eminent Singh-American activist.

The First Lady was wearing a custom Jason Wu ruby coloured chiffon and velvet gown with a handmade diamond embellished ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald. She wore shoes designed by Jimmy Choo.

"At the end of the Inaugural festivities, the outfit and accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives," a White House official said.

For several hours beyond mid-night, hundreds of attendees to the inaugural ball were enthralled by celebrities like Alicia Keys, Black Violin, Brad Paisley, Far East Movement, FUN, members of the Glee cast, John Legend, Katy Perry, Mana, Smokey Robinson, Soundgarden, Stevie Wonder and Usher.

According to a White House official, the total capacity for the inaugural balls this year is similar to 2009, when six balls were held throughout the Convention Centre as against two this time.

The first and second families made three stops the Ballroom for the Commander-in-Chief's Ball and both floors of The Inaugural Ball, the official said.

At the Commander-in-Chief's ball, Obama danced with Staff Sergeant Bria D Nelson of the Air Force, and the First Lady danced with Gunnery Sergeant Timothy D Easterling of the Marine Corps.

Vice President, Joe Biden, danced with Army Staff Sergeant Keesha Nicole Dentino, while Jill Biden danced with Petty Officer Patrick Figueroa of the Navy.