India has a special love-hate relationship with weddings. We love these glitzy, glamorous affairs and hate to show any restraint when it comes to organizing them. In fact, families aren’t the only ones who go all out in celebrating the nuptial; even the guests make considerable effort to attend these soirees. They pull out all their finery, bring out all their jewels, and finally decide that nothing is good enough and they need a completely new ensemble for the event.
But, no matter how magnificent a wedding you may have last attended, they will pale, nay disappear, in comparison to the ones that the super-rich in India has thrown. For, how else will the world at large know that they form the top one percent of our population?
The 500-crore Reddy Wedding
This wedding is noteworthy for reasons beyond the sheer display of wealth that Gali Janardhan Reddy (the ex-Minister of Karnataka) resorted to in celebration of his daughter getting hitched. What raised eyebrows was that this ostentatious affair was conducted at a time when the entire country was reeling from the shock, and after effects, of demonetization.
Even as people were standing in line to withdraw their own hard-earned money, there were reports of extravagant mandaps being modeled after popular landmarks in Karnataka, like Krishnadeva Raya’s palace, Mahanavami Dibba, Vijay Vittala Temple, and the Lotus Temple.
Reddy Ji sent out gold-plated wedding invites fitted with LCD screens and more than 50,000 people are rumored to have attended the wedding. Food was served in pure gold and silver utensils and the bride was wearing a Kanjeevaram saree valued at 17 crores and decked with 90 crores worth of jewelry to match. India may have been cash-strapped in December of 2016, but this Indian family was not wanting for anything at all!
The Sahara Wedding
That Subrata Roy, Chief of Sahara, is rich beyond belief comes as no news to anybody in India at all. Therefore, when both his sons – Sushanto and Seemanto – got married in 2004, people expected the event to be a stunning spectacle like no other.
They were not in the least bit disappointed as news came in of nearly 11,000 people gathering at the Sahara Auditorium, Lucknow. The guest list included the crème de la crème of the society, and Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Anil Ambani were tasked with the responsibility of welcoming the other guests on behalf of the Sahara family.
Events during the almost week-long celebration included performances by a flamenco dancer, Shiamak Dawar, and a British Symphony Orchestra. Even the highest-flying members of our society were simply stunned at the grandeur that met their eyes, and that’s saying something. Besides, isn’t it impressive enough then more than a decade later, this wedding is still considered one of the more expensive galas to ever have been hosted in India, totting up bills in the vicinity of 500 crores? Enough said, already.
The Story Continues …
If tales of these regal affairs set your minds racing, your hearts pumping, and your jaws hurtling towards the floor, there are plenty of similar examples to be found across the country. For instance, we have Lakshmi Mittal who spent nearly 350 crores on his daughter’s wedding, an event that was graced by the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee, Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Kylie Minogue. The family was also the only one ever to be allowed to hold an event at the ever popular and much sought after Palais de Versailles. Beat that for exclusivity!
Then there were that luxurious multi-city wedding celebrations organized for actor and hotelier Vikram Chatwal. The guest list was made up of national and international luminaries (who, by the way, were flown down here in private jets), and included Naomi Campbell, son of the late Shah of Iran, Prince Nicholas, and our very own King Khan. The procession merrily traipsed across Delhi, Mumbai, and Udaipur, incurring a total expenditure of more than 100 crores! Petty change, considering the legacy of the Chatwal family.
There are countless sagas of brazen display of wealth and power in this country. And rest assured, as long as the rich try and outdo each other with bigger, fatter, and more opulent weddings, we’ll never run short of tales to swap over our morning cups of chai!