Oprahmania hits Jaipur as festival tries to turn the page
Oprah Winfrey brought her consummate professionalism and folksy charm to India's biggest literary festival yesterday and earned huge applause for comments ranging from the insightful to the slightly bizarre.
At one point, she declared: "My life is a Taj Mahal."
Ms Winfrey, dressed in Indian clothes and telling the audience how much she loved the country, was always likely to be a winner.
The 57-year-old television star did not disappoint, saying of her first visit to India: "It has been one of the greatest life experiences I have ever had."
Her appearance was a welcome respite for the organisers of the Jaipur literary festival, still reeling from the controversy surrounding the decision of Booker prize winner Salman Rushdie to pull out of the event after organisers were warned by police that a team of assassins had been hired to kill him.
Clerics at the influential Deoband seminary had previously demanded he be refused entry to India, reigniting the decades-old row over his book, The Satanic Verses.
If Ms Winfrey was under any threat it was the risk of overdosing on applause that bordered on hysteria.
The star, who had visited Mumbai, Agra and Vrindavan before heading to the festival in the state of Rajasthan, did have some good lines. She mentioned the madness of India's roads and the reluctance of drivers to stop at red lights. Ms Winfrey also talked about the paradox of the importance India attaches to the family and the way widows she met in Vrindavan were treated – effectively exiled by society after the deaths of their husbands.
"Just because your husbands have died, you cannot become second-class citizens," she said.
One of the last questions referred to her visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra, built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife.
Would she want such a place built for her? Ms Winfrey said her life was its own memorial.
Then it was over. There were more cheers and hugs and Ms Winfrey was whisked away by a side entrance.
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...