US President, First Lady host PM Modi for intimate dinner; exchange vintage gifts

PM Modi presented a sandalwood box containing an idol of lord Ganesha to POTUS Joe Biden and gifted a 7.5-carat lab-grown green diamond to FLOTUS Jill Biden.
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House for a private dinner, in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (Photo | PTI)
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House for a private dinner, in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (Photo | PTI)

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Wednesday hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an intimate dinner at the White House.

Modi was received by the president and the first lady, and before entering the building, they posed for photos and were seen chatting.

"When friends meet! PM @narendramodi arrives at the @WhiteHouse for a private engagement with @POTUS @JoeBiden, @FLOTUS @DrBiden and family. An occasion for two leaders who share close bonds of friendship to cherish special moments together," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.

Later in a tweet Prime Minister Modi said, "I thank @POTUS @JoeBiden and @FLOTUS @DrBiden for hosting me at the White House today. We had a great conversation on several subjects."

According to the White House, this evening, the president, the first lady and the prime minister also enjoyed a musical tribute to the regions of India. The dinner featured the president's favourite foods, including pasta and ice cream, it said.

At the intimate dinner, the trio enjoyed a musical tribute to the regions of India, performed by youth dancers from Studio Dhoom, a DMV-based Indian dance studio that helps connect a new generation to the vibrant culture of Indian dance, according to the White House.

They were joined by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, the White House said. Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Deputy Chief of Protocol Aseem Vohra were seen entering the White House.

Earlier in the day, Jill Biden hosted Modi at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where they participated in an event to highlight shared priorities of India and the US around education and workforce.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden and the First Lady will host a State Dinner at the South Lawn of the White House, which is expected to be attended by 400 guests. Prime Minister Modi's visit also includes an address by him to the joint session of the US Congress.

Vingate camera, lab-grown diamond feature in gift exchange

The White House also said that as the official gift, the president and first lady will present Prime Minister Modi with a handmade, antique American book galley from the early 20th Century.

They will also gift Modi a vintage American camera, accompanied by an archival facsimile print of George Eastman's Patent of the first Kodak camera, and a hardcover book of American wildlife photography, it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a special sandalwood box to US President Joe Biden that has been handcrafted by a master craftsman from Jaipur, Rajasthan. The sandalwood sourced from Mysore, Karnataka has intricately carved flora and fauna patterns.

The box contains the idol of Ganesha, a Hindu deity considered the destroyer of obstacles and the one who is worshipped first among all gods. The idol has been handcrafted by a family of fifth-generation silversmiths from Kolkata. The box also contains A diya (oil lamp) that occupies a sacred space in every Hindu household. This silver diya has also been handcrafted by artisans from the family of fifth-generation silversmiths in Kolkata.

The box gifted by PM Modi to US President Joe Biden contains ten donations - a delicately handcrafted silver coconut by the skilled artisans of West Bengal is offered in place of a Cow for Gaudaan (donation of cow). A fragrant piece of sandalwood sourced from Mysore, Karnataka is offered in place of land for Bhudaan (donation of land) Til or white sesame seeds sourced from Tamil Nadu, offered for Tildaan (donation of sesame seeds). Handcrafted in Rajasthan, this 24K pure and hallmarked gold coin is offered as Hiranyadaan (donation of gold).

PM Modi also gifted POTUS a copy of the first edition print of the book, ‘The Ten Principal Upanishads’ published by Faber and Faber Ltd of London and printed at the University Press Glasgow to President Joe Biden In 1937, WB Yeats published an English translation of the Indian Upanishads, co-authored with Shri Purohit Swami. The translation and collaboration between the two authors occurred throughout the 1930s and it was one of the final works of Yeats.

Meanwhile, the prime minister gifted a 7.5-carat lab-grown green diamond to US First Lady Dr Jill Biden. The diamond reflects earth-mined diamonds’ chemical and optical properties. It is also eco-friendly, as eco-diversified resources like solar and wind power were used in its making.

Papier mâché - It is the box in which the Green Diamond is placed. Known as kar-e-kalamdani, Kashmir’s exquisite Papier mâché involves sakthsazior meticulous preparation of paper pulp and naqqashi, where skilled artisans paint elaborate designs. It (Green Diamond) is a beacon of responsible luxury that symbolises India’s 75 years of freedom and sustainable International relations.

Modi arrived in Washington from New York where he led a historic event at the UN Headquarters earlier in the day to commemorate the 9th International Day of Yoga, attended by UN officials, diplomats and prominent personalities.

He is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and the First Lady.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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