Indian press go crazy on mega-bucks wedding

This file photo shows a Bell 429 helicopter, similar to one that was given as a gift to a groom in a recent 'mega-bucks' Indian wedding. (AFP)

The groom wore a garland made of bank notes and received a helicopter as a gift, there were 18,000 guests - or perhaps it was 30,000 - and 1,000 workers took 40 days to prepare the venue.

The exact details have been fiercely disputed, but Wednesday's newspapers in New Delhi were all in agreement that this had been one very big, very fat Indian wedding.

Lalit Tanwar married his bride Yogita Jaunapuria at a family farmhouse near the city in a ceremony celebrated with 100 dishes, 12 giant TV screens to broadcast proceedings, and even a gift of $5,500 for the groom's barber.

The Times of India calculated the cost of Tuesday night's extravaganza uniting two influential political families at one billion rupees ($22 million), while the Mail Today went for the less conservative figure of $55 million.

"I don't understand why there is so much hoopla about this marriage," the groom's father, Kanwar Singh Tanwar, told the Times. "All estimates of this marriage in the media are speculation."

In the Indian Express, he was quoted as saying: "True, a Bell 429 helicopter was given but it was a simple wedding."

Kanwar Tanwar is a hugely wealthy city politician from the ruling Congress party, while the bride's father is a former politician in the capital -- making the arranged marriage a perfect power deal.

The media recorded each lavish detail with a mixture of shock and delight.

The Hindustan Times reported that at a pre-wedding ceremony last week 2,000 guests were each given a silver biscuit, a safari suit and $500 in cash, while at a different ritual the bride's family welcomed the groom with gifts worth $5 million.

The newly-weds, both 26, were heralded on Tuesday night by flowers and lights bedecking three kilometres (two miles) of roads leading to the function, where no meat or alcohol were served in line with Hindu tradition.

However the groom's new $8 million five-seater helicopter could not be present due to flight regulations, and instead he was given its keys and a small silver replica.

Celebrations are set to continue with another reception on Thursday and a final gathering on Sunday at a five-star hotel attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai.

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