In a lovely and rare gesture, billionaire tycoon Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Mukesh Ambani, along with his wife Nita, let their hair down briefly to shake a leg at the engagement ceremony of his third son, Anant with Radhika Merchant.
Elder son Akash and wife Shloka, twin-sister Isha with her husband Anand Piramal joined the Ambani couple on the make-shift stage in their iconic Antilia building on Thursday night.
The country’s numero-uno power-family swayed to the 1994 superhit song ‘Wah, Wah Ramji, Jodi Kya Banayi’ from the movie ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun?’, as many in the audience also couldn’t resist and joined to dance near their seats.
The mega-surprise, ostensibly planned and executed by Nita Ambani, thrilled the select audience, with an endearing Mukesh bhai, not exactly a JT (John Travolta!) in his steps, bravely grinned and attempted to keep pace with his supple and nubile wife, though their children displayed more talent, but everyone loved every moment.
Clapping and cheering them was a distinguished gathering comprising the Ambani family, their ‘samdhis’ from the daughter-in-law (Shloka) and son-in-law (Piramal) sides, guests and other invitees.
After the dance number ended, a visibly relieved Mukesh Ambani waved at the audience, acknowledged their love with flying kisses and the entire family took a bow.
The happy occasion was the continuation of the ‘roka’ rituals performed at the famed Shrinathji Temple in NathDwara, Rajasthan on December 29, 2022, which was attended by only very close family members and some friends.
Thursday night’s ceremony was the traditional ‘Gol Dhana’ and ‘Chunari Vidhi’ along with the former exchange of rings by the young couple
‘Gol Dhana’, literally meaning jaggery and coriander seeds, is a pre-wedding ceremony in Gujarati traditions, akin to an engagement. These items are distributed at the groom’s place where the event takes place.
The age-old traditions were conducted with great enthusiasm in the family temple and ceremony areas followed by exchange of greetings, gifts, bonhomie and fun.
The evening started with Isha Ambani-Piramal visiting the home of her to-be-‘Bhabhi’ (sister-in-law), to formally invite them for the engagement ceremony.
The bride’s family came to the groom’s residence laden with gifts and sweets, and a lot of merrymaking followed with all joining in.
Then it was time for the ring ceremony, and Isha announced the ‘surprise’ ring-bearer, the family’s pet Golden Retriever!
The excited canine was brought down by an attendant to the stage, commanded to sit, the two tiny ring-boxes strapped to his shoulder were retrieved and handed over to Anant and Radhika.
They exchanged the rings with greetings pouring in from all sides, some more dancing with hands raised in benediction by their parents and others before them, and the couple took the blessings of the elders.
The evening’s festivities started with members of the Ambani family led by Anant’s sister Isha going to the Merchant residence to invite them and Radhika to the functions.
Then the Merchant family arrived to a warm welcome by the Ambani family at Antilia, amidst ‘Aartis’ and chanting of mantras.
The two families followed Anant and Radhika to the family temple for Lord Krishna’s blessings for the union and the engagement ceremonies.
From there the group moved to the ceremony venue to start the functions with a Ganesh puja followed by the reading of the traditional Lagan Patrika or the invitation to the upcoming wedding.
The elite audience comprised Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who hurried there after seeing off the Prime Minister, top film stars, cricketers, business honchos and more.
Glittering at the venue were Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Aishwarya Rai-Bachhan, Sara Ali Khan, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, Varun Dhawan, John Abraham, Sachin Tendulkar and wife Anjali, the Piramals, Mehtas and Merchants, several politicins, bureaucrats and more
After the curtains downed on the engagement ceremonies, the gathering retired to a lavish vegetarian feast, though little birds fluttering around Antilia declined to disclose the cuisine at the sumptuous spread.
Anant and Radhika have known each other for a few years and the engagement ceremonies brings them closer to their upcoming marriage in the coming months.
Anant has completed his studies from Brown University in the US and has since served at Reliance industries in various capacities including as a member on the Boards of Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail Ventures. He currently leads the energy business of RIL.
Radhika, daughter of Shaila and Viren Merchant, is a graduate of New York University and serves as a Director on the Board of Encore Healthcare.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)