White House gatecrashers organise 'saree' competition

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Washington D.C., June 13 (ANI): Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the American couple, who gate-crashed President Barack Obama's first State Dinner hosted for Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in November 2009, organized a 'saree' competition during an Indo-U.S. Polo match in Washington D.C. on Saturday.

The Indian dress competition was a sub-event at the annual America's Polo Cup, which saw a team comprising of Indian and other South Asian players fighting it out against the U.S. team.

Scores of Indian-Americans gathered for the event, which was organized at the National Mall, overlooking the Washington monument.

"This is for the first time in the world that a saree contest has been organised. We are really excited about it. It will be some of the most beautiful women, not just the women of India, but American women as well," said Michaele Salahi.

"I am looking all around and there are beautiful sarees in the crowd today. So, we will pick for the first time ever in the world, the best saree contest and we are excited to see who the winner is," she added.

The contest was jointly won by a local Indian beauty queen Nikkitasha Marwaha and Shivani Nath.

"It's validating that the saree is still appreciated, it's still popular even though it is a very heavy-duty fabric to wear around you. But it's uplifting and it's exciting and I am so happy," said Nath.

The spectators at the event were seen enjoying the Indian cuisine and music.I think it was very well received by the community. I love the international turnout; there seem to be a lot of people from different nations. There is a lot of appreciation for the different cultures, a lot of different attires, different dress," said Christina Harding, a spectator.

"So, I think it was really nice how all the cultures came together to celebrate this polo match," she added.

The Salahis claim that this annual event is a charitable fundraiser; however, their claims are still under investigation by the U.S. federal police.

Tareq Salahi, the organizer, said that it was great to have played against players from a region where the game of polo actually originated.

"You know, every year a different country is picked. India was picked over two years ago, before 'Slumdog Millionaire' was even heard of. So, it was actually something done by design, by host committee," said Salahi.

"Polo originated in India. In that part of the world, the whole empire, and you know this is the heart and soul of where the game was born," he added.

The Indian participation in the America's Polo Cup was announced at a reception hosted by the Indian embassy in September 2009.

But after the infamous gate-crashing incident of the Salahis in November last year, the Indian embassy distanced itself from the event.

Michaele and Tareq Salahi had met and shaken hands with President Barack Obama and first lady Michele Obama in the receiving line in the Blue Room, as the Obamas greeted each of their 400 invited guests during the dinner party hosted for the Indian Prime Minister.

The White House said the Salahis were not invited and their presence was seen as an embarrassing security lapse. (ANI)

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