From Sunlen Miller:
Underneath a massive white tent, with a glass ceiling and eight chandeliers, President Obama noted during his first toast at his first state dinner that guests were celebrating the spirit of the U.S.-India partnership under the stars this evening.
“In India, some of life’s most precious moments are often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent. It’s a little like tonight. We have incredible food, the music, and are surrounded by great friends," he said. "It’s been said that the most beautiful thing in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. Mr. Prime Minister, today we worked to fulfill our duty to bring our countries closer together than ever before.”
Standing in full black-tie tux next to Prime Minister Singh of India, at the conclusion of their long day of festivities and meetings, Obama said they are drawn by ties that bind them together — movements like that of Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King’s allowing each to stand in leadership today.
“It’s the bond of friendship between a president and a prime minister who are bound by the same unshakeable spirit of possibility and brotherhood that transformed both our nations, the spirit that gave rise to movements led by Gandhi and King and which are the reason that both of us can stand here tonight,” he said.
The president closed with words of India’s first prime minister, spoken on the eve of India’s independence.
And with that Obama raised a glass — of what looked like water in a wine glass — to toast. Singh toasted with what looked like white wine.
“To the future that beckons all of us, let us answer its call and let our two great nations realize all the triumphs and achievements that await us. Cheers,” Obama said.
Singh said that the engagement between the United States and India is “highly important” for the world as a whole, at a time when “profound changes are taking place in the world,” prompting new needs for international cooperation.
The prime minister said the two leaders are embarking now on a new phase of their partnership.
“Your journey to the White House has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in India,” Singh said toasting Obama. “You are an inspiration to all those who cherish the values of democracy, diversity and equal opportunity.”
Michelle Obama wore a floor-length sparkling silver and gold strapless dress, by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan, for the dinner. She carried a chiffon shawl and wore a bunch of churis, the traditional Indian bangle bracelets.