Dozens of chartered planes carrying celebrities, including former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, flew into a sleepy airport in Rajasthan for the lavish pre-wedding festivities for the daughter of India’s richest man.
Isha Ambani, 27, daughter of Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, will marry Anand Piramal, 33, in the financial capital of Mumbai next Wednesday, but the celebrations began this weekend in the desert city of Udaipur, with feasts, singing and dancing, and other pre-wedding rituals.
Security was beefed up as the high-profile guests started arriving at Udaipur’s airport, said a source at the scene, who asked not to be identified.
Outside, they were awaited by luxury sedans driven by chauffers wearing white uniforms and colourful Rajasthani turbans.
The Clintons and the Ambanis have an association that goes back more than 18 years and have met several times both in India and abroad, according to media reports.
Then president Bill Clinton held meetings in India with the Ambanis, including deceased founder and Mukesh’s father Dhirubhai Ambani, just before and after he left the presidency in 2000-2001.
In March this year, when Hillary Clinton visited India to deliver a keynote speech at a conference in Mumbai, she dined with the Ambanis at their 27-floor Antilia residence - one of the world’s most expensive homes, according to local media.
Many other top industrialists, politicians, sports and Bollywood stars descended in Udaipur yesterday to join what has been dubbed locally “the big, fat Indian wedding.”
Steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and newly-weds, actress Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas were among the guests joining the bash.
Among the other Bollywood stars who have arrived in Udaipur are Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao; Abhishek Bachchan with mother Jaya, wife Aishwarya and daughter Aaradhya; Karan Johar; Salman Khan; Parineeti Chopra; Anil Kapoor and wife Sunita; Boney Kapoor with daughters Janhvi and Khushi; Siddharth Roy Kapur with wife Vidya Balan; John Abraham with wife Priya Runchal; Ronnie Screwvala with wife Zarine; Karisma Kapoor; Varun Dhawan; Karan Tacker and designer Tamara Ralph from Ralph and Russo.
Former head of advertising giant WPP, Martin Sorrell, BP Group CEO Bob Dudley, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch and Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih are also invited.
Guests for the celebrations, which will bring together two of India’s most influential families, have access to an app mapping out the activities, which include a private concert by Beyonce.
The celebrations are being held at two venues in Udaipur - Oberoi Udaivilas and City Palace.
The pre-wedding bash is to be followed by mehndi and sangeet ceremonies that are also expected to take place in Udaipur.
The couple’s sangeet ceremony would have performances of Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan, and A R Rahman among others, according to reports.
On Friday, the families started the pre-wedding functions with a special four-day ‘Anna Seva’ to feed 5,100 people, a majority with special abilities, in Udaipur.
These people will be served food three times daily until tomorrow as part of the other wedding related ceremonies.
A specially curated exhibition called ‘Swadesh Bazaar’ has also been set up to showcase 108 traditional Indian crafts and arts from all parts of India.
Many in India have closely followed the preparations, including the Ivy League-graduate couple’s engagement at the luxury Villa D’Este hotel on Italy’s Lake Como, attended by more than 600 guests, and featuring a private performance by singer John Legend.
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