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Indian Billionaire’s Son’s Pre-Wedding Ceremony Attracts High-Profile Attendees

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A grand pre-wedding ceremony for the son of an Indian billionaire has attracted big-name guests from around the world, setting the stage for a lavish celebration that has captured the attention of the public in India and beyond. Anant Ambani, the 28-year-old son of Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries, is set to tie the knot with his fiancée, Radhika Merchant, in a ceremony that promises to be a spectacle of opulence and extravagance.

The three-day event, which kicked off with a community feast earlier this week, is expected to be attended by over 1,000 guests, including royalty, business moguls, Bollywood stars, and even international celebrities like Rihanna. Notable invitees include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bob Iger, as well as prime ministers of various countries and other dignitaries. The guest list reads like a who’s who of the global elite, reflecting the Ambani family’s influential status in the business world.

The pre-wedding festivities are taking place at a sprawling venue in the state of Gujarat, where guests will be treated to a series of themed events and activities. From an “Evening in Everland” to a “Walk on the Wild Side,” the celebrations promise to be a mix of glamour, culture, and charitable initiatives. In keeping with tradition, the couple will participate in a signing ceremony at a temple, surrounded by their loved ones and well-wishers.

The extravagant nature of the celebrations has sparked debate about the glaring wealth disparity in a country where millions still live in poverty. While the average annual salary in India is modest, lavish weddings and feasts are a common occurrence, even among families of more humble means. The Ambanis, however, are known for their extravagant celebrations, which are on a completely different scale compared to most.

Despite the criticism, the Ambani family is also incorporating elements of Indian heritage and philanthropy into the festivities. Handmade scarves by female artisans and specialty dishes prepared by dozens of chefs will be among the highlights of the event, showcasing the rich cultural traditions of the region. Additionally, guests will have the opportunity to participate in a charitable tour of an animal rescue and conservation project, a cause close to the groom’s heart.

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As the pre-wedding celebrations unfold, all eyes are on the Ambani family and their guests, who are set to witness a spectacle unlike any other. With the actual wedding set to take place in July, it’s safe to say that this billionaire’s son is truly making a statement with his extravagant nuptials. The world awaits in anticipation for what promises to be a wedding of royal proportions.

When a member of one of India’s wealthiest families gets married, big-name guests and showstopping pomp and circumstance are nothing unusual. But it’s not every day that the invitees include royalty, business titans, Bollywood luminaries and Rihanna, for three days of a pre-wedding spectacular, months ahead of the actual ceremony.

The lavish festivities that got underway on Friday for Anant Ambani, whose father heads Reliance Industries, have seized public attention in India despite — or perhaps because of — how they underscore gaping inequality in a country that has enjoyed economic growth yet where millions still live in profound poverty.

Mr. Ambani, 28, the younger son of Mukesh Ambani, will welcome the guests at a sprawling venue in the western Indian state of Gujarat, along with his fiancée, Radhika Merchant. Ms. Merchant, 29, comes from a family that owns health care businesses and is trained in Indian classical dance.

The couple started the festivities earlier this week with a community feast: hosting thousands of people from neighboring villages and serving them Gujarati delicacies.

But for the main event starting Friday night, more than 1,000 guests, including some of the world’s richest people, are expected. Notable invitees include Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg of Meta and Bob Iger of Walt Disney; present and former prime ministers of Canada, Sweden and Qatar; the king and queen of Bhutan; and Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit. Among the luxurious touches planned are chartered flights for the guests and people available to iron their clothes or help apply their makeup.

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The guest list is part of the pageantry. Guests are not just (or not even) friends, but attractions in their own right. Apart from enjoying the spectacle, many will appreciate the chance to sidle up to India’s most influential business family at the bar. Mr. Iger’s presence, in particular, seems well timed: Nita Ambani, Mukesh Ambani’s wife, is reportedly poised to become chairwoman of the board of the company created by a merger of Reliance with Walt Disney’s Indian media assets.

There is precedent for extravagant Ambani nuptials. At a ceremony for Anant’s sister in 2018, two former U.S. secretaries of state in attendance, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, both reportedly danced to bhangra, a type of pop music from India’s Punjab region.

This time, the Ambani family has commissioned female artisans from the region to weave handmade scarves as gifts to the guests and a tribute to Indian heritage. Dozens of specialty chefs will prepare dishes, the estimated number of which ranges from 500 to 2,500, according to some media accounts.

The average annual salary in India is about $2,750, but lavish feasts are a regular part of Indian weddings, even for people of modest means. The Ambanis are splashing out like any other family — though on an entirely different scale.

A video invitation that has gone viral lays out the agenda. Day 1’s theme is “An Evening in Everland,” and the dress code is “elegant cocktail.” On Day Two, “Walk on the Wild Side,” guests are requested to wear animal-print clothing ahead of an evening of dance and music.

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Comfortable footwear is suggested on the final day, when guests will tour an animal rescue, rehabilitation and conservation project that is a favorite charitable undertaking of the groom.

That evening, dressed in traditional Indian clothes, guests will witness “Hastakshar,” the signing ceremony between the couple, at a temple.

The actual wedding is not until July. It’s probably going to be fancy too.

Alex Travelli contributed reporting.

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Two individuals sought for causing damage to popular rock formations at Lake Mead

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Las Vegas — Federal authorities are seeking the help of the public in identifying two men responsible for damaging rock formations at a national recreation site in Nevada.Officials at Lake Mead National Recreation Area announced on social media that the incident occurred over a recent weekend near the Redstone Dune Trail on the north side of the lake. The petrified red dunes in this area are a popular hiking destination within the park.A video shared by CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV, which has since gone viral, shows two men pushing chunks of sandstone off an outcropping while a girl can be heard screaming. Park officials have condemned this behavior as appalling, emphasizing that the damage caused is irreversible.


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An image from a video recorded on the evening of April 7 shows two men vandalizing popular rock formations.
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“It’s one of my favorite places in the park, and they’re up there just destroying it. I don’t understand that,” said John Haynes, public information officer at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in an interview with television station KVVU.

Haynes also emphasized that destruction of this nature at federally protected sites can lead to felony charges, resulting in potential fines and jail time. Spanning 2,344 square miles of mountains and desert canyons, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a popular destination just outside Las Vegas, attracting around 6 million visitors annually. Due to staffing levels, park officials often rely on the public to help monitor resources within the park boundaries.

Visitors are urged to use their cellphones to capture videos or photos of any suspicious activity, provided it is safe to do so, and to gather any information, such as license plate numbers, that could aid in identifying the offenders. The National Park Service operates a tip line that receives numerous submissions each year. The tip line number is 888-653-0009, and an online reporting option is also available.

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“It’s crucial to inform us of any such incidents,” Haynes added.

Over the past decade, there have been several cases of vandalism on federal land across the Western United States, with visitors defacing petroglyphs, toppling rock formations, and damaging centuries-old rock art.

 

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