India's richest man brings Rihanna, Mark Zuckerberg and 1,200 guests to a pre-wedding celebration for his son

India's richest man brings Rihanna, Mark Zuckerberg and 1,200 guests to a pre-wedding celebration for his son

Sunday 03/03/2024
Radhika Merchant (left) pictured with her fiancé Anant Ambani and the Ambani family.(Reuters: Francis Mascarenhas)

It might be the biggest party this small west Indian city has ever seen.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is kickstarting big fat Indian wedding celebrations for his son, Anant Ambani, 28, who is set to marry his longtime girlfriend Radhika Merchant.

He's expecting billionaires from around the world, heads of state, and Hollywood and Bollywood royalty to attend a three-day bash in the family's hometown, which kicked off on Friday.

The occasion that has India transfixed is a three-day pre-wedding jamboree for his youngest son.

The party is in Jamnagar, a city of about 600,000 in a near-desert part of Gujarat state.

It's the family’s hometown, and the home of the main oil refinery of their business empire, Reliance Industries.

There will also be traditional ceremonies in a temple complex.

On Wednesday, the Ambani family organised a community food service for 51,000 people living in nearby villages.

The wedding itself does not take place until July.

The three-day pre-wedding bash provides a glimpse of the opulence expected at the wedding itself.

Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Ivanka Trump attending

The nearly 1,200-person guest list includes Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sunder Pichai and Ivanka Trump.

Indian billionaires Gautam Adani and Kumar Mangalam Birla are also expected to attend, along with retired cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.

Bollywood celebrities such as Deepika Padukone, Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee will also attend.

They'll be entertained by pop superstar Rihanna, magician David Blaine and famous Bollywood singers.

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, is also likely to attend following an announced $8.5 billion merger of its India media assets with Reliance's on Wednesday.

The guest list also includes Mohammed Bin Jassim al Thani, the prime minister of Qatar; Stephen Harper, former Canadian prime minister; and the king and queen of Bhutan.

Guests to be pampered like royals

Guests to the couple's celebrations are set to savour 500 dishes created by about 100 chefs.

They will also be pampered, with hair styling, makeup artists and Indian wear drapists available but only on a "first come, first serve basis", according to a planning document provided to invitees and seen by Reuters.

Guests will also don jungle-themed outfits to visit an animal rescue centre run by Anant Ambani.

Known as Vantara, meaning Star Of The Forest, the 3,000 acre (1,200 hectare) centre houses abused, injured and endangered animals, especially elephants.

The invitation says guests will start each day with a new dress code, with mood boards and an army of hair stylists, makeup artists and Indian wear designers at their hotel to help them prepare.

Return charter jet flights from New Delhi and Mumbai are on offer, but guests have been asked to limit themselves to only two luggage items or three suitcases per couple.

The document cautions that "if you bring more", there's no guarantee it will arrive on the same flight.

Forbes lists Mr Ambani as the richest person in Asia.

His Reliance Industries is a massive conglomerate, with $US100 billion ($153 billion) in annual revenue and interests ranging from oil and gas to telecoms and retail.


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