13 NOVEMBER 2008

Clad in a powder blue, sari-style dress, and surrounded by a troupe of Indian dancers in colourful costumes, Princess Maxima of the Netherlands looked like she'd walked onto the set of a Bollywood movie this week. The princess was thousands of miles away from the Indian film industry's Mumbai base though, stepping out in Amsterdam to help launch a celebration of Indian culture in the Dutch capital.

Former investment banker Maxima, who accompanied her husband and royal mother-in-law on an official trip to India last October and has an interest in the country's microcredit projects, spent time chatting to the green-faced Kathakali performers.

Their colourful spectacle, which featured a classical Indian art form dating back to the 16th century, kicked off the three-week-long festival. Numerous concerts, exhibitions, screenings and seminars will bring the sights and sounds of the India to the Dutch capital. One iconic sight has already been unveiled - a 20-foot replica of the Taj Mahal created from 100 tonnes of sand.

Photo: ©
The princess chats to the Kathakali dancers whose performance launched a three-week-long India fest in the Dutch capital Photo: © Rex
Photo: ©
Last year, former Argentinian investment banker Maxima visited India with her husband and the Dutch queen. She has a special interest in the country's microcredit systems Photo: © AFP
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