India celebrates its own royal marriage

By Tinku Ray
BBC News, Delhi


India is having a royal wedding of its own on Friday in the desert state of Rajasthan.

The lavish celebrations come in the same week that Prince William announced his engagement to Kate Middleton in the UK.

The marriage is between Shivraj Singh - son of the former Maharaja of Jodphur - and Gayatri Kumari.

It is being attended by more 800 guests which include members from all of India's former royal families.

Indian and international celebrities are also reported to be attending.

The wedding is taking place in the 19th Century Rambagh Palace which is now a luxury hotel in Jaipur.

The groom is reported to have arrived in a vintage Rolls-Royce owned by his father, the former Maharaja - or king - of Jodphur, Gaj Singh.

The family insists that this will be a traditional royal wedding which means there will be no women in the groom's wedding procession or baraat.

With what amounts to a Who's Who on the guest list, not surprisingly security is extremely tight.

Even a wedding invitation is not enough to guarantee guests an entry to the celebrations.

A special entry pass is also needed.

Near death accident

On the guest list are international singers Sting and Mick Jagger, but it not clear whether they are definitely attending.

Members of Nepal and Bhutan's royal families will also be present.

The media has been told to stay away, although pictures of the wedding will be provided later on.

The Indian media has covered every detail, from the wedding outfits to the menu and floral arrangements.

Even though royalty in India was abolished almost 40 years ago, the lifestyles of the former royal families generate a lot of curiosity and in many cases they are still very popular.

There is particular interest in this wedding because of an almost fatal accident suffered by the former prince five years ago at a polo tournament.

Shivaraj Singh was in a coma for more than a month and is still going through physiotherapy.

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