DUBAI // The much-hyped Dubai wedding of the Indian parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar took place at a private villa yesterday. Dressed in a north Indian sherwani, Mr Tharoor, 54, smiled all through the traditional Hindu ceremony.
He and Ms Pushkar, 45, held hands as the priest recited religious verses to them. The couple then read vows to each other, which were translated from Sanskrit to English. "Now that you have accepted me as your husband, you will be the queen of my heart," said Mr Tharoor, as the crowd cheered for the couple. "I shall always make you happy. I shall never separate you from me and I will take care of you."
The couple were thrown into the media spotlight earlier this year after allegations emerged that Ms Pushkar had received a free stake in the IPL Kochi cricket franchise. This eventually led to Mr Tharoor's resignation as Indian minister of state for external affairs. Ms Pushkar was dressed in a red designer wedding sari and covered her head with the sari as she completed the rituals. The Dubai-based entrepreneur appeared thrilled throughout the ceremony and was flanked by her family and friends.
"I shall be with you, shoulder to shoulder, in the ups and downs of life," she said. The home of Indian businessman Prakash Bhojwani in Al Safa was converted into the wedding area where the ceremonies were conducted. "I just want to see this couple happily married and I'm doing my best to ensure that the wedding goes well," said Mr Bhojwani. Most guests wore traditional Indian attire. An Indian vegetarian lunch was served for all the guests before the wedding ceremonies began.
Ms Pushkar's teenage son, Shiv, who studies in Dubai, was also present at the wedding and was seen welcoming guests. Despite rumours before the wedding that the guest list was enormous, only about 70 people attended. Among the guests was the veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher and Mumbai-socialite couple Adi and Parmeshwar Godrej. "I was invited for the wedding from both sides; by Sunanda and Tharoor," said Mr Kher, who sat in the front row to watch the proceedings.
When asked if he thought the marriage would end the controversy surrounding the couple, he said: "Drama is part of everybody's life, especially if they are public figures. I think they are excited about being together, which is why they are getting married." Also present at the wedding was Harshad Mehta, the owner of the Indian Premier League franchise IPL Kochi, and one of the key figures in the controversy.
The two married last week, ending months of speculation about their relationship before yesterday's second ceremony. The first wedding was held at the ancestral home of Mr Tharoor, who hails from the south Indian state of Kerala, and was performed in traditional Kerala style. The Dubai wedding yesterday was conducted in Kashmiri style. The newlyweds will hold a reception at the same venue tonight. They will then head to Spain for their honeymoon followed by a reception in New Delhi.