White House to ‘respectfully accommodate’ Modi’s navaratri fast

“As with all guests hosted by U.S. Presidents over the years, we always work to respectfully accommodate the practices of our visitors," said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council.

Updated - April 20, 2016 06:11 am IST

Published - September 24, 2014 12:07 pm IST - Washington

In this October 6, 2013 photo, Narendra Modi performs “aarti” during navratri celebrations in Ahmedabad. In view of Mr. Modi observing navratri fast during his U.S. visit, the White House has said this is unlikely to be an issue.

In this October 6, 2013 photo, Narendra Modi performs “aarti” during navratri celebrations in Ahmedabad. In view of Mr. Modi observing navratri fast during his U.S. visit, the White House has said this is unlikely to be an issue.

In view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi observing navaratri fast during his U.S. visit, the White House on Tuesday said this is unlikely to be an issue as they respectfully accommodate the practices of visitors.

“We are aware of the Prime Minister’s plans to fast during his visit to Washington. As with all guests hosted by U.S. Presidents over the years, we always work to respectfully accommodate the practices of our visitors,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council.

“The President looks forward to a successful bilateral visit with the Prime Minister, and we do not anticipate this being an issue in any way,” Mr. Hayden told PTI when asked about Mr. Modi’s navaratri fast, during which he will be on a liquid diet and consume lemonade with some honey and a cup of tea every day.

The White House did not provide any further details, of what Mr. Modi would be served during the private working dinner hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on September 29, 2014.

However, the White House Historical Association, believes that the details of the dinner have already been worked out, which would be respectful of the religious practices and believes of the visiting leader.

“Since the early 1920s, the Office of Protocol at the State Department always meets with — as happened with the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister — the Head of State advance team several weeks in advance and goes over every detail of the visit, which includes any dietary concerns or restrictions,” Lara M. Kline, spokesperson of the White House Historical Association, said.

“So the Indian advance team and the State Department Office of Protocol would have come to an understanding and an agreement related to his arrival and there is always the utmost concern, respect and consideration of the Head of State. I know, they would absolutely do everything he would be comfortable with, which the advance team shared,” Ms. Kline said.

The Obama’s White House — courtesy the First Lady — has its own bee hive and produces honey which is used by the First Family and the White House kitchen.

The beehive is located on the South Lawn, and the foraging bees help pollinate the Kitchen Garden.

Charlie Brandt, a White House carpenter for more than two decades, who started beekeeping as a hobby, is the official beekeeper of the first ever beehive on White House grounds.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “It is normal diplomatic practice that when we discuss any engagement which may entail any meal or any other food... for the host to request and for the guest, that is the Indian side, to indicate what are the dietary preferences.”

“And let me assure you that those dietary preferences have been indicated to the host (U.S.) and they have taken note of it and have prepared everything accordingly,” he said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

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