It was a dream come true for five dozen people of Odisha's tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district as they got the opportunity to have lunch with newly elected President Droupadi Murmu at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
All 60 people from Murmu's home district, invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the country's first tribal president, were in for a pleasant surprise when the authorities urged them to join a lunch hosted by their 'daughter of the soil'.
"We were very happy to attend the President's oath-taking ceremony at the Central Hall of the Parliament, but never imagined we would be invited to have lunch at Rashtrapati Bhavan," said Sujata Murmu, a former Zilla Parishad chairperson of Mayurbhanj district.
She and some other women guests had attended the oath-taking ceremony donning Santhal traditional saree.
Similar was the experience of Gayamani Beshra and Dangi Murmu. Both were close to the President for a long time and were invited to the swearing-in ceremony. They, too, did not expect that the President would also invite them to lunch.
The residents of Murmu's home district were given a tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and shown the President's office.
The guests were also given a packet of sweets upon leaving the President's official residence, Sujata Murmu said, adding it was a memorable experience.
Asked about the menu of the lunch, the participants said it was purely vegetarian as the President does not eat non-vegetarian food, not even garlic and onion.
The menu comprised sweetcorn vegetable soup, palak paneer, dal arhar tadka, gobi gajar beans, malai kofta, jeera pulao, naan, fresh green salad, boondi raita, kesar rasmalai and fresh fruits.
Some participants, however, lamented that they could not take selfie with the President as mobile phones and cameras were not allowed inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.