| Updated at: 1156 PST, Sunday, November 07, 2010|
MUMBAI: A relaxed President Barack Obama on Sunday showcased the softer side of his agenda in India, soaking in a celebration of a revered festival and telling science-loving students: "We are very proud of you."
Stepping back briefly from the economic mission of his visit here, the president and his wife, Michelle, stopped by a local school for a joyous performance in honor of Diwali, celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs as a victory of good over evil. The first lady eagerly danced with the children, acquitting herself well. The president eventually got up and gave it a go.
The happy imagery is part of Obama's outreach to this democracy of more than 1 billion people, an emerging power in Asia and increasingly important partner to the U.S. on matters of trade and security. Obama was to meet with farmers, hold a town hall with college students and then head for more events in the capital of New Delhi.
At Holy Name High School, the Obamas smiled and chatted with youngsters. First came a detailed explanation of environmental projects by children, impressing Obama, always a promoter of studies in the field of science.
"Outstanding," the president declared. The Obamas then took part in a candle-lighting ceremony and watched girls in colorful garb of blues, greens, pinks and orange perform a swaying dance with graceful hand gestures.
A final, lively performance got Mrs. Obama up, twirling and bouncing with students on the dance floor. The kids eventually pulled the president up to dance, his arms pumping away, enshrining a lasting memory of his journey to Asia.
Obama is in the midst of 10 days of travels to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. On a hot afternoon, Obama shed his tie as he moved onto an agricultural expo, speaking to some village farmers remotely over a live video link.