It was a magical night celebrating the artistic confluence of two ancient lands, an ocean apart but akin in spirit against the backdrop of history.
The beats of African drums and incantation of chants mingled with mystic Sufi strains and nuances of Indian classical dances to create a soul-stirring tribute to the spirit of India and Africa - in a gala concert here titled 'A Tribute to Africa'.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) presented the show on Monday evening on the occasion of the first-ever India-Africa summit.
In the backdrop of the lighted ruins of the Purana Quila, the 16th century fort in the heart of the capital, the show of colours and spirit that embody Africa recreated the era when the land was a melting pot of cultures under its mighty rulers 500 years ago.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukerjee underlined the spiritual and emotional proximity between the people of India and Africa and said the partnership between the two nations would grow stronger in the days to come.
Foreign ministers of 14 African countries, who are in the Capital to take part in the first-ever India-Africa summit, were present at the show, tapping their feet to the music.
The heads of state and the ambassadors of the foreign nations occupied pride of place in the front rows.
ICCR president Karan Singh lauded the common values and the instinctive cultural affinity between India and Africa.
The highlight of the fusion show was its grand finale. A burst of coloured firecrackers lit the air to the joyous whoops of the delegates from all nations symbolising the spirit of carefree bonhomie, the essence of the two ancient cultures.
The show was characterised by several firsts - a series of duets between performers of both the countries. Mohiniattam dancers from South India showed off their finger and eye movements with dancers and percussionists from Ghana creating a study in contrasts with the spirit of an African dance.
Belly dancers from Egypt and Libya with decorative head loads flaunted their body language and balance while a troupe from Manipur showed off its dancing skill with drums.
The Garagalu Shiva and snake dancers from Andhra Pradesh brought the audience to the edge of their seats with their fine balancing act. The dancers carried elaborate Shiva-Parvati and Nagaraja (snake king) urns on their heads decorated with fine fabric.
The Elgon Troupe from Uganda presented the traditional African merry-making dance while the south Africans bonded over Mohiniattam and a tribal dance.
"African dances like the Indian dances are very grounded. The indigenous tribes of Africa are nature worshippers and they worship the natural spirits like we invoke the five elements. Body plays a major part in both dance forms," said Sangeeta Ishwara, who choreographed the show.
The audience sat spellbound till the end of the show as the sounds and the spirit of Africa echoed through the partially lit ground - journeying back in time amid the ruins of a mighty empire the fort once nurtured.