In this Dec. 9, 2018 handout photo released by Reliance Industries Limited, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (center) and Nita Ambani (right) visit a curated showcase of traditional Indian crafts and art forms on display ahead of the wedding of Isha Ambani (left) in Udaipur, India. AP
NEW DELHI — In a season of big Indian weddings, the Wednesday marriage of two business scions is set to be the biggest of them all.
The bride, Isha Ambani, is the Ivy League-educated daughter of industrialist Mukesh Ambani, thought to be India’s richest man. Forbes estimates his net worth at over $43 billion.
The groom, Anand Piramal, is the relative pauper. His father, industrialist Ajay Piramal, is thought to be worth $10 billion.
The wedding is being held in Mumbai on Wednesday but festivities began weeks ago, starting in September with an engagement party at a lakeside Italian palace. Over the weekend, thousands attended pre-wedding parties at a 16th-century palace in the Indian desert city of Udaipur, where footage shot by partiers showed Hillary Clinton dancing with Shah Rukh Khan, one of India’s biggest movie stars, as former Secretary of State John Kerry danced just a few feet away.
The highlight, though, was a performance by Beyonce, who sang “Crazy In Love,” among other hits, with a band backing her up and a series of costume changes that included at least one India-inspired outfit.
“Beyonce Lights Up Udaipur,” the Times of India shouted on Tuesday.
Indian weddings are famously elaborate, driving many families into debt with expectations that they invite hundreds or thousands of people, and arranging professional song-and-dance shows.
The Indian media noted that the Mumbai wedding was expected to be relatively small affair, with just 600 or so people in attendance.
The competitiveness of India’s wintertime wedding season is growing more extreme, according to Archana Dalmia, a social activist in New Delhi.
“A farmer might commit suicide because he can’t save enough money to get his daughter married,” she said.
The extravagant wedding of Indian actress Priyanka Chopra and American singer Nick Jonas earlier this month — attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was straight out of a Bollywood film.
So-called dowry deaths — brides killed when their families fail to meet in-laws’ dowry demands — constitute a substantial share of all female homicides in India, a 2018 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report found.
While opulence has always been a feature of Indian weddings, families used to hand down bridal saris as heirlooms. No more, Dalmia said.
“This generation is very different. Priyanka Chopra will never be able to wear it again and she won’t be able to pass it down,” Dalmia said. /ee
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