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The Kennedy Center's Maximum India Festival by the numbers

Before the opening of the three-week Indian festival, the curator, designer and executive chef of Maximum India describe what can be seen and eaten at the Kennedy Center.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 11:24 AM

For the Kennedy Center, pulling off a festival on the scale of Maximum India is a fingers-crossed logistical feat hinged on visas being awarded, flights arriving on time and every performance going off without a hitch.

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Most of the 530 performers and a dozen chefs will log the nearly 20-hour flight from India to take part. To house them for the 21-day festival, the Kennedy Center booked 1,300 overnight hotel stays, and its kitchen will crank out more than 3,700 meals (a large number of them vegetarian). In all, the festival will cost $7 million to mount.

As you marvel at priceless gems, sample crispy chaats and watch dancers decked out from head to toe, take a moment to consider: How many diamonds give those necklaces their knockout glitter? How many chewy, crusty pieces of naan will those chefs make each day? How long does it take a dancer to get ready? The numbers may surprise you.


The number of hours it might take just one bharatanatyam dancer to dress for a performance, from braiding and adorning her hair to putting on her sari, nose rings, earrings and ankle bells to heavily lining her eyes.


The number of pieces of naan the chefs expect to make during the festival, 500 every day.


The number of musicians who will perform in "The Manganiyar Seduction" - several generations, nearly all of them related.


The number of yards of fabric - or 18 feet - that a woman wraps around her body when she wears a typical sari. The festival will showcase 25 of the garments in the "Sari" exhibit.


The number of spices - including cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and mace - in chef Hemant Oberoi's kicky garam masala, which will season several dishes on the festival's menus.


The number of states in India, each of which is represented through its craft traditions in the exhibit "Kaleidoscope: Mapping India's Crafts."


The number of diamonds in one wedding necklace on display in the exhibition of jewels from Jaipur's Gem Palace shop. (Sorry, folks, the shop won't reveal the price of the bauble.)


The number of similar necklaces the shop has sold in India.

- Lavanya Ramanathan

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