At his At Home, President Pranab gives tradition a break

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) As a pleasant winter sun shone on the manicured lawns of the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Pranab Mukherjee mingled with dignitaries at a reception he hosted here Saturday, and in a break from tradition, walked up to the guests and exchanged greetings with them.

At the traditional reception, or At Home, the president hosts on the occasion of Republic Day, Mukherjee did away with protocol as he ambled along among the guests on the lawns of Rashtrapati Bhavan, exchanging 'Namastey' greetings with them and even shaking hands with some.

"Sir, your speeches are really nice," the IANS correspondent told the president, to which he smiled, and said "Thank you!".

Many guests introduced themselves and their spouses to the president, who smilingly accepted the greetings from the excited gathering as his splendidly liveried guards tried politely to keep the people from coming too close.

In another break from tradition, the reception saw Bangla tunes being played by the band.

Two of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's compositions "Anondo Loke Mongola Loke" and "Gram Chara Oi Ranga Mati" formed a delightful background music as President Mukherjee chatted with his special guests - the King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his young and beautiful wife Jetsun Pema.

Maroon dahlias, pansies and roses were in full bloom in the neat beds bordering the lawns, while gladioli were bunched together in bouquets in huge brass pots, adding colour to the serene surroundings as the president chatted with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur and former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

The president's wife, Suvra Mukherjee, who was brought in a wheel chair, appeared to enjoy the Bangla tunes, tapping her fingers to "Anondo Loke, Mongola Loke", and chatting with Gursharan Kaur.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani and his wife among others exchanged greetings with one another. They also went on to mingle with the dignitaries, including foreign envoys and their spouses.

President Mukherjee went up to Advani and spoke with him.

Matar aaloo samosas, chilli paneer, plum cake, patties, pastries, Caribbean delight made of fish were among the snacks on offer, as women, mostly attired in elegant saris, and men in suits, tucked in and watched the proceedings.

Red liveried presidential guards, with their gold-red turbans brought tray loads of the snacks for the president and the other dignitaries, including the Bhutan king, who were seated under an umbrella-shaped marquee. All around the massive garden, snack stalls were set up for the other guests.

President Mukherjee, a few months after he was sworn in last July, had issued an order doing away with the colonial era of addressing the president as "His Excellency".

He had also directed authorities to organise government functions for him within Rashtrapati Bhavan premises in order to avoid inconveniencing the public.

Last month, in an effort to make Rashtrapati Bhavan more accessible to the public, Mukherjee directed that it be opened for public viewing on Sundays and for increased hours.

An online system of booking for tours of Rashtrapati Bhavan has also been launched.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to wait lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

On the BCCI's prohibitive media guidelines

On the BCCI's prohibitive media guidelines

An obsession with controlling information manifests itself in many ways. More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »