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Queen gets Bollywood best on 60 years of reign

A group of 50 musicians will play traditional Indian and Bollywood music as part of a unique flotilla on the Thames in one of the largest public events during Queen Elizabeth's ongoing Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Sunday.

Diamond Jubilee celebrations are billed as one of two major events in 2012 that showcase the best of Britain, the other being the Olympics. The flotilla is part of Diamond Jubilee events planned for the extended bank holiday weekend from 2 to 5 June, reflecting the pomp, pageantry and regalia associated with the royal family. Diamond Jubilee celebrations mark 60 years of the Queen's reign that began on 6 February 1952. Her coronation took place on 2 June 1953. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee (25 years) in 1977 and her Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002.

On Sunday, over 1,000 boats will muster on the river for the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant between Chiswick and Putney in the morning, and set off downstream around noon.

The formal procession is scheduled between 2 pm and 6 pm, starting from Battersea Bridge and finishing downriver of Tower Bridge.

Besides the Indian music group Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band & Dhol Ensemble, the pageant will include performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Jubilee Bells, the Jubilant Commonwealth Choir and the Academy of Ancient Music.

The Indian music group is sixth in the pageant order, and comprises 50 musicians from the Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band and Shree Muktajeevan Dhol Academy, who will 'play a mixture of traditional Indian melodies, Scottish tunes and Bollywood anthems on bagpipes and percussion,' according to the organisers of the pageant.

The Shree Muktajeevan Pipe Band was established in 1972 by the devotees of London's Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan and plays at public festivals and events worldwide. Dave Khimani is the Band secretary and Ravi Vekaria its Drum Major.

The pageant is expected to be one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the River Thames. Rowed boats and working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes will be dressed with streamers and Union Flags, their crews and passengers turned out in their finest rigs. 'The armed forces, fire, police, rescue and other services will be afloat and there will be an exuberance of historic boats, wooden launches, steam vessels and other boats of note,' the organisers said.

The flotilla will include passenger boats carrying flag-waving members of the public placed mid-river in the floating celebration of Queen Elizabeth's 60-year reign. The spectacle will be further enhanced with music barges and boats spouting geysers. Moreover, there will be specially constructed elements such as a floating belfry, its chiming bells answered by those from riverbank churches, the organisers added.

Large parts of Central London riverside and bridges will be pedestrianised for the event.
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