The bridegroom did a little jig before mounting a white horse. The mother was misty eyed. The father lost his cool briefly with one of the staff and the baraatis danced on the streets.
A normal big, fat Indian wedding — except there were a billion onlookers and those fleeting glimpses were the only visuals available to a bank of television cameras and a fleet of satellite trucks parked outside Prateeksha, the bungalow of superstar Amitabh Bachchan in the western suburb of Juhu.
The occasion was the intensely private but enormously public wedding of his star son Abhishek (31) with Aishwarya Rai (33), former Ms World and superstar.
Dressed in a rich, maroon Kanjeevaram, Aishwarya arrived from La Mer to Prateeksha at about 2.25 pm in a gray Mercedes Benz decorated with red and white flowers. Her parents, Vrinda and Krishnaraj Rai, kept a low profile. So did Jaya Bachchan. Papa Bachchan however, was seen shouting instructions to band members for blocking the way of the buses ferrying guests from Jalsa.
But Aby's baby more than made up for Bachchan senior's loss of temper. Outside the gates of Prateeksha, Abhishek and nephew Agastya mounted a horse surrounded by dancing baraatis, who all wore mango-coloured saffas. Among them were industrialist and family friend Anil Ambani with wife Tina, filmmaker Karan Johar, actors Ajay Devgan, Riteish Deshmukh, Dimple Kapadia and producer Goldie Behl and wife Sonali.
As the baraat entered the house, Abhishek, dressed in a heavily embroidered Abu-Sandeep sherwani, briefly waved to the hysterical crowd sending media hounds and zealous fans in frenzy. But once inside, the large, wooden gates to the landmark bungalow were closed.
The ceremony kicked off at 6.13 pm with an exchange of garlands. Eleven pandits chanted sacred mantras under the guidance of Chandramouli Upadhyay, a member of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Trust. It ended at around 8 pm with a big feast with chefs from the Taj group serving Indian, Thai, Chinese and Continental fare.
The party then returned to Jalsa where the celebrations continued. Late in the night, Aishwarya moved back to La Mer for the bidaai ceremony, which is scheduled to take place early on Saturday. The couple will visit the Balaji Temple in Tirupati on Saturday following which they will leave for a month-long honeymoon in Venice.