A near capacity gathering at the 3,000-seat Royal Festival Hall in London on Monday night gave a standing ovation to five of India's top artistes who participated in a unique concert Tiranga, a salute to the Indian flag, at the 55th Republic Day celebrations.
Bollywood lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar read out poems he had specially composed eulogising each of the three colours and the Ashoka Chakra even as leading vocalist of Hindustani music Pandit Jasraj, santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, mandolin wizard Vidhwan U Shrinivas and world famous tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain held the gathering spell-bound for over an hour.
The concert, presented by Asia House, the premier pan-Asian organisation in the UK, was sponsored by Amas Investments and Projects Services Limited, which is part of the Hinduja Group, HSBC, Unilever, Air-India, Bagri Foundation, Tata Consultancy Services and Sky News.
Durga Jasraj, daughter of Pandit Jasraj and producer of the concert, said it was held in aid of Asia House and Pratham, UK, a charity supporting the education of children in India.
The programme began with a short film on the Indian flag as it evolved during the freedom movement. It was followed by a blending of classical Indian music and poetry.
Javed Akhtar read four of his poems based on the colours of the flag - orange, white, green - and on the Charka (circle) in the centre. Each poem was followed by a short musical interpretation by one of the musicians.
The concert culminated in a fantastically rich mix of the sounds of santoor, mandolin, tabla and vocals by Pandit Jasraj.
As part of the Republic Day celebrations, Ronen Sen hosted a reception at India House in the afternoon. Among those who attended were Pakistani High Commissioner Dr Maleeha Lodhi, NRI industrialist and UK's Ambassador for Overseas Business Lord Swraj Paul, NRI industrialist Sir G K Noon and a number of British MPs.