04 September 2010

Fusion of culture at celebrity wedding

CHENNAI: Top politicians, leading actors, and rows of camerapersons moved in and out. But one celebrity was at the centre of it all. Superstar Rajnikanth was all poise, warmly welcoming every single guest at his daughter's wedding.

Soundarya Rajnikanth's marriage to Stanford-graduate Ashwin Ramkumar on Friday was an interesting coming together of different cultures.

Maharashtrian turbans that the actor and some of his relatives wore, the nine-yard saris that the bride and other women in her family were attired in — all of this marked a seamless confluence of various practices and rituals.

The wedding was a two-day celebration which began on Thursday at the Rani Meyyammai Hall in Egmore, here. The hall was packed as early as 7.30 a.m.

The priest anchoring the rituals in Tamil Brahmin tradition announced that the newly weds were being blessed with verses in all four Vedas.

Producer and managing director of Ocher Studios, Soundarya, who was first dressed in a green silk sari later changed into a red nine-yard sari. Her temple jewellery seemed to blend well with the “ethnic” ambience at the hall. For the evening, she wore a specially-designed sari in golden beige.

In the morning, the guests included the actor's mentor director K. Balachander, director Mani Ratnam, actors Suhasini, Kamal Haasan, poet Vairamuthu, R.M. Veerappan, former Minister, MDMK general-secretary Vaiko and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, with his wife Dayalu Ammal, Union Minister A. Raja and State Minister Durai Murugan and T.R. Baalu, former Minister, came around 7.30 p.m. in the evening. The Chief Minister spent a few minutes on the dais, sharing his joy with the family.

Soon after, the entry of the former Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, made heads turn. Actors Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Sridevi and Union Minister M.K. Alagiri attended a reception held on Thursday.

The stage d├ęcor, by D.C. Sekar, went with the theme of the wedding — in the colours pink, green and gold. While the stage had a mandapam in muted gold in the morning, with rows of white flowers, the evening's was a combination of a contemporary and antique look.

There was a lot of buzz in the dining area. Veteran caterer Arusuvai Natarajan, who was supervising, said: “Rajnikanth's family was particular that we stick to the traditional meal on the leaf and avoid the buffet. There are about 26 items on the reception menu, with traditional Karnataka dishes such as bisi bele bhath and Mysore rasam since he [Rajnikanth] is from there.”

Among other guests were some of the old friends of Rajnikanth. The actor's face lit up as soon as he saw an old man, who slowly walked up to the stage. It was N.S. Varadhachari, the actor's lawyer for over three decades.

“I have known Rajnikanth for a long time now. It is amazing how he manages to remain his same, simple self. He is one of those people who can always respect others,” he said.