State Dining Room, The White House
Welcome everyone! It’s a pleasure to be with you.
When we come together around a table, to break bread and share stories—when we sit shoulder to shoulder, and speak heart to heart—we find the invisible threads that tie us to one another. We see the possibilities those connections bring.
It’s a lesson I learned from my mom: that with a handful of fresh flowers and a set of candles, an ordinary dinner could become a magical moment—the laughter and joy and kind words staying with us long after the dishes were cleared away. And I try to bring that same spirit to the events we host here.
With this Official State Visit, we are bringing together the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies. After years of strengthening ties, the U.S.-India partnership is deep and expansive as we jointly tackle global challenges. But our relationship isn’t only about governments. We’re celebrating the families and friendships that span the globe—those who feel the bonds of home in both of our countries.
As some of you may know, Prime Minister Modi is a vegetarian. So, we asked chef Nina Curtis—a plant-based pioneer—to work with our White House chefs and create a stunning vegetarian menu. Guests will have the option to add fish to their main course, as well.
Tomorrow night, guests will walk across the South Lawn into a pavilion draped in rich greens with saffron colored flowers at every table: the colors of the Indian Flag. And on the transparent sides, those colors—and the strength and heritage they represent—frame the iconic scenery and symbols of our nation, our democracy and our history: the White House and the Washington Monument.
Inside, each table arrangement is warm and unique. We hope guests feel as if someone has set that table just for them—because we have.
After dinner, we’ll have the opportunity to hear one of our nation’s incredible talents: Grammy award winner, Joshua Bell.
His performance will be followed by Penn Masala, a South Asian acapella group from the University of Pennsylvania, who are bringing a little piece of my hometown to the White House, along with songs inspired by the sounds of India.
Finally, after the last plates are cleared–with new connections forged, and old ones strengthened—guests will end their evening walking across a moonlit lawn. There they will be greeted by hundreds of glowing lanterns guiding them home, illuminating their pathway with all the warmth and love and laughter we hope they take away from our time together.
Now, normally the press comes and you look at these beautiful plates of food our chefs have prepared, and get almost close enough to touch it—but you don’t get to try it. So today, I’ve asked our chefs to prepare a few small bites of tomorrow’s menu—to thank you for taking the time to be with us today.
Every detail of this dinner has been thoughtfully planned by a team of people from across our government. So, I want to thank the White House residence staff, our social team, and the State Department staff who have been working so hard to make this visit meaningful.
Now I will turn it over to our Social Secretary, who has guided this process, Carlos Elizondo.