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VIPs arrive at pre-wedding bash for daughter of India’s richest man

This handout photograph shows Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, right, and his wife Nita receiving former US first lady Hillary Clinton, center, who arrived for the per-wedding function of Mukesh’s daughter Isha Ambani with Anand Piramal, in Udaipur. — AFP photos

Dozens of chartered planes carrying celebrities, including former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, flew into a sleepy airport in western India 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 colorful 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 Indian 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 on Saturday to join what has been dubbed locally “the big, fat Indian wedding.”

Indian 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. 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.

The wedding will bring together two of India’s most influential families.
Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, has a net worth of $47 billion, Forbes magazine says. The Piramals have interests in pharmaceuticals and real estate, and according to a report in the news magazine India Today, have given the couple a 50,000-sq-foot sea-facing home in Mumbai. Many in India, where millions live in dire poverty, have closely followed the preparations, including the 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.

Newspapers and websites have been full of details about the ceremonies, the designer jewellery and clothes, with some of India’s top designers dressing the wedding party. The wedding invitation includes necklaces and precious stones stacked in a two-tier floral box, at a cost of 300,000 rupees each, India Today said. The wedding is the latest in a series of high-profile marriages that began last year, when cricket captain Virat Kohli tied the knot with Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma. Just last week, actress Priyanka Chopra and US singer Nick Jonas had a two-day wedding at one of India’s most ostentatious royal palaces.-Reuters

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