Asia’s richest man launches lavish pre-wedding party in India

Published March 1, 2024
ANANT Ambani, son of Mukesh Ambani, and Radhika Merchant, daughter of industrialist Viren Merchant, serve traditional Gujarati food to villagers on the outskirts of Jamnagar before their pre-wedding celebrations.—Reuters
ANANT Ambani, son of Mukesh Ambani, and Radhika Merchant, daughter of industrialist Viren Merchant, serve traditional Gujarati food to villagers on the outskirts of Jamnagar before their pre-wedding celebrations.—Reuters

NEW DELHI: India’s richest man has kicked off lavish pre-wedding parties for his son by feeding more than 50,000 people in his hometown, with celebrations in the coming days expected to include some of the world’s most influential figures.

Global tech CEOs, industry titans, Bollywood stars, pop icons and politicians are expected to jet in Friday for the main three-day celebrations hosted by billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, who is building a sprawling Hindu temple complex for the event.

Ambani, 66, chairman of oil-to-telecoms giant Reliance Industries, is Asia’s richest person according to the Forbes real-time billionaires list, worth more than $114 billion.

On Wednesday evening, Ambani and wife Nita — along with their son Anant and his fiancee Radhika Merchant — launched a three-day feast for villagers at the Reliance Township in his hometown of Jamnagar, in India’s western state of Gujarat.

Anant, 28, who also serves as a director on the boards of several Reliance-owned firms, is expected to marry Merchant, 29, the daughter of an industrialist, later this year.

Ambani held the most expensive wedding in India for his daughter in 2018, which reportedly cost $100 million and saw US pop megastar Beyonce perform. This time, R&B star Rihanna, illusionist David Blaine and Bollywood’s Diljit Dosanjh will perform for the guests, who are expected to include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Meta head Mark Zuckerberg, and several current and former political leaders, according to a list released by Reliance.

Also among the invitees is Disney chief Robert Iger, following a deal agreed Wednesday between Reliance Industries and Walt Disney to merge their Indian media businesses. The merger will create a $8.5 billion entertainment giant in the world’s most populous nation and fifth-largest economy.

Other guests invited include Ivanka Trump, the former US president’s daughter, as well as ex-Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and the King of Bhutan.

Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan, cricket icons Sachin Tendulkar and M. S. Dhoni, and industry titan Gautam Adani are also invited in a who’s-who of India’s super-rich elite.

The Ambanis are building a Hindu temple complex in Jamnagar, to keep “India’s rich cultural and spiritual identity at the heart of the wedding festivities”, the Reliance Foundation said on social media.

The main celebrations, running from March 1-3, will have different themes, events and dress codes — including a “jungle fever” day with a visit to an animal rescue centre run by Ambani, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2024

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