LONDON // A rare performance in Europe by India's dancing Marwari horses was the highlight of the opening night of a weekend of festivities marking the official start of celebrations for Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee.
The eight-strong team of Marwaris - among 550 horses from 17 Commonwealth countries taking part in the four-day Royal Windsor Horse Show next to Windsor Castle - will reprise Thursday's performance tomorrow in the presence of the queen and Prince Philip.
The royal couple will be treated to an extravanganza of horsemanship and musical acts. The folk singer Raghu Dixit and his dancer wife Mayuri Upadhya, accompanied by dancing puppets and a 70-piece orchestra, are also among the acts that will be introduced by the actress Dame Helen Mirren.
The show is due to be screened on television in Britain next month, during a national holiday weekend in honour of the queen's 60 years on the throne.
"I'll be singing Mysore Se Aayi, my first-ever Hindi song," Dixit told reporters. "I think it will be an incredible experience for me personally."
Dixit, who will perform alongside the likes of Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle and violinist David Garrett, said: "Those people are some of the biggest music acts in the world.
"Being on the same bill as them is quite an honour and it feels like a lot of the hard work and planning that everyone in my team has put in is taking us along this very magical journey."
The displays of horsemanship also feature 100 robed members of the Royal Cavalry of Oman riding Arabian steeds.
Sarpratap Singh, a retired Indian Army colonel, and Jaswinder Singh were flagbearers for the Marwaris. "It's a big honour to represent Sikhs and be a part of the glorious tradition," said Sarpratap Singh.
This weekend's performances were not the first by Indians to mark the queen's jubilee.
In February, an Indian cultural variety show was staged at the Robert Bolt Theatre in Manchester to mark the occasion, the first-ever such festival to be staged in north-west England.
And earlier this week, the British chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, founded in India more than 120 years ago, unveiled posters it was paying to have displayed on 100 London buses, congratulating the queen on her 60-year rule.