Traditional Christmas fancy ball in New Delhi

Sunday, 19 January 2014 14:29

On January 10, 2014 the Russian Embassy hosted a colourful and jolly fancy ball timed to the Orthodox Christmas. The masquerade has already become a traditional and sought-after event in the cultural and social life of the Indian capital.

The carnival spirit yet again drew numerous friends of Russia in the Embassy’s hospitable halls. This year a 4-meter tall Christmas tree brought for this occasion from Russia as a gift from the Moscow town hall, saw a gathering of around 1000 guests in various costumes and national dresses at the Embassy’s White Hall.

The celebrations were attended by influential statesmen and politicians, reputed public figures, businessmen, bohemians, and diplomats, including the heads of missions of Austria, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belorussia, Iceland, Spain, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Macedonia, Slovakia, Uzbekistan, Sri-Lanka and many others. The reception also saw ministers, former ambassadors to Russia, MEA top brass.

The ball was flavoured by the performance of the wonderful jazz band from Moscow “Gorod leta”, which means “Town of Summer”. Young talented artists worked wonders playing both well-known Russian national tunes and international hits which made the guests break into a dance. But when charming singer Alexandra started performing the famous Hindi song “Made in India”, the audience burst like rockets going off in the sky.

Many guests gave free scope to their imagination while thoroughly preparing, sometimes even with the own hands, their costumes.

That is why the independent jury and H.E. Mr Alexander Kadakin, Head of the Russian mission, had trouble in choosing the best male and female costumes – the king and the queen of the ball.

The first prize for the most creative female costume went to Ms Evgeniya Karmalito, spouse of the Senior Counselor, who outshined all other ladies in her creative Vikramaditya costume. The first prize went to billionaire Mr Chetan Seth for the forest man costume.

The Christmas and New Year celebrations ended with fantastic fireworks on the Embassy’s lawns. By all accounts and judging by numerous media reports, the fancy ball was a true success.

New Delhi saw the revival of this ancient tradition in diplomatic circles in the early 2000s at the Russian Embassy. Today's masquerade ball was the fifth since 2010. It has become a very popular social event in the life of India's capital.


Masquerade balls were a feature of the Carnival season in the 15th century, and involved increasingly celebrate allegorical Royal Entries, pageants and triumphal processions celebrating marriages and other dynastic events of late medieval court life. They were extended into costumed public festivities in Italy during the 16th century Renaissance (Italian, maschera). Being held for members of the upper classes as generally elaborate dances, masquerade balls became popular throughout mainland Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Masquerade balls were sometimes set as a game among the guests. The masked guests were supposedly dressed so as to be unidentifiable. This would create a type of game to see if a guest could determine each other's identities. This added a humorous effect to many masques and enabled a more enjoyable version of typical balls.

Cultural references

The picturesque quality of the masquerade ball has made it a favorite topic or setting in literature. A masquerade ball is central to the plot of Mikhail Lermontov's 1835 play Masquerade. The book, musical and most film adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera have a scene at a masked ball. The Phantom's (Erik's) costume is that of the Red Death from the aforementioned Edgar Allan Poe story The Masque of the Red Death. In the play Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, Romeo meets Juliet at a masquerade ball.

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