Greeted by the lively sound of Lezim drums and colorful dancers, Will and Kate were given flower garlands and placed petals in the water during a traditional ceremony. They each also received a traditional tika dot (a symbol of welcome), which was placed on their foreheads by local women at the tank.
According to Hindu legend, the god Rama stopped at the historic spot while searching for his wife Sita. Thirsting for water, he shot an arrow into the ground and water gushed out, creating what would become Banganga. Today, the site has a reputation for medicinal and purification abilities.
After the ceremony, William and Kate visited the charity, SMILE (Society Moved to Instill Love with Empathy), which is located in the economically-deprived Malabar Hill area of Mumbai.
Run by Anaxi Shah, the organization offers educational grants and sponsors women to set up their own enterprises.
During their visit, the royal couple chatted with local children who lived in the nearby slums.
“The children are street smart. They are very smart,” Shah said. “Since 1997, 42 children have gone to college. When you start out asking them what they want to do, they say mechanics or shop assistants, but now we have accountants, people in commerce and in medicine. It makes us feel very proud.”
Among the many success stories was Siddesh Tirloskar, 19, a university student and dancer who performed in the Bollywood movie Jaggajases after SMILE sent him to Mumbai’s prestigious Sharma Dawar Dance Academy.
When Kate met Siddesh, who is also studying for a university degree in commerce, and found out he was a dancer, she said: “You’ll have to give William some lessons.”
Upon learning that Siddesh did ballet as well as contemporary dance, William said, “Really? Impressive. It’s a hard art to master.”
The prince, who is a fan of hip-hop, then challenged Siddesh to a dance competition. “Let’s see some of your breakdancing moves, he said, before the young dancer launched into an impressive routine.
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“Now you,” said Kate, nudging her husband.
“No, no,” said William, laughing. “I think Siddesh has done a very hard performance, especially in flip-flops. Very nice to meet you – your dancing is very good. All the best.
Laughing afterwards, Siddesh said: “I thought he was going to do it too, but he didn’t.”
The royal couple then watched a group of children playing soccer, with William joining in on target practice.
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“The red one? I’m going to bend it,” said William, before missing the target. “Oh, I thought you meant the back one,” he added before the ball also missed a red come 10 yards away.
In her wedges, Kate took a shot, but also missed the target. “We both missed. That’s terrible,” she said.
The kids soccer coach, Ashok Rathod, said it was a dream come true for the children to meet the couple.
“We never thought that Prince William and Princess Kate would visit a slum and talk to the children. For us, this is a big thing. It’s like a dream come true.”