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In March, Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani threw a three-day prenuptial bash for his son that included a 1,200-person guest list, including former world leaders, tech tycoons and Bollywood’s megastars, and a performance by renowned singer Rihanna.

It was only the start of their months-long lavish pre-wedding celebrations which have grabbed headlines and set off a social media frenzy.

In May, the family took guests on a 3-day pre-wedding cruise from Italy to France, which included a DJ set from David Guetta, Katy Perry belting out her hit song “Firework” and a performance by Pitbull to cap it off, according to media reports.

Finally, the wedding is set for next week, with Anant Ambani, 29, marrying his longtime girlfriend, Radhika Merchant, in what many have dubbed the wedding of the year.

Here’s what we know:

Who are the Ambanis?

The father of the groom is Mukesh Ambani, 66, currently the world’s 9th richest man with a net worth of $116 billion, according to Forbes. He is also the richest person in Asia.

His Reliance Industries is a massive conglomerate, reporting over $100 billion in annual revenue, with interests ranging from petrochemicals, and oil and gas to telecoms and retail.

The Ambani family owns, among other assets, a 27-story private apartment building, named Antila, worth $1 billion in Mumbai. It has three helipads, a 160-car garage, a private movie theater, a swimming pool, and a fitness center.

Ambani’s critics say his company has flourished mainly because of political connections during the Congress governments in the 1970s and 80s and subsequently under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule after 2014. They say “crony capitalism” in India has helped certain corporations, such as Ambani’s, thrive.

The family patriarch has started passing the torch to his two sons and daughter. The oldest son, Akash Ambani, is now chairperson of Reliance Jio, their telecoms business; his daughter, Isha, oversees retail, while the groom Anant, the youngest, has been inducted into the new energy business.

Who are the bride and groom?

Anant has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, according to Reliance Industries’ website, and oversees the conglomerate’s renewable and green energy expansion.

He also runs a 3,000-acre (nearly 1,200-hectare) animal rescue center called Vantara in Gujarat state’s Jamnagar, the family’s hometown where guests in March spent days celebrating in the extravagant pre-wedding party.

The bride, Radhika Merchant, 29, is the daughter of pharmaceutical tycoon Viren Merchant and is the marketing director for his company, Encore Healthcare, according to Vogue.

She told the magazine that the two were introduced through mutual friends in 2017. “That first meeting just sparked something special between us, and it wasn’t long before we started dating,” she said.

When’s the wedding and what’s expected?

The main wedding ceremony is set for July 12, followed by a grand reception on July 14, according to local media. Celebrations are expected to be split between the Ambani’s Jio World Convention Center in Mumbai city and their family home.

The dates were reportedly chosen based on the couple’s birth charts, as is typical in Hindu custom, and deemed auspicious. Also keeping with tradition, the wedding will be preceded by days of traditional wedding events and rituals.

On Friday, Indian social media was abuzz with videos from the couple’s sangeet, a ceremony where the bride and groom’s families perform dances for the guests. It also included performances by Bollywood stars like Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh and Salman Khan as well as Justin Bieber, who flew to Mumbai for the event, according to local media.

The family also organized a mass wedding for more than 50 underprivileged couples last week, as part of the pre-wedding celebrations.

Extravagant parties are the Ambanis’ specialty and next week’s events are expected to draw more celebrities, billionaires and world leaders.

In March for the pre-wedding bash, the guest list included Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, former leaders of Canada and Qatar as well as Bollywood’s A-list stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. In addition to Rihanna, Akon and Diljit Dosanjh, a Punjabi singer who shot to international fame when he performed at Coachella, also took the stage.

In 2018, when his daughter married, Ambani made the headlines because of the grand celebrations, with pop sensation Beyoncé performing at the pre-wedding festivities. At the time, former U.S. Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were among those who rubbed shoulders with Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars in the western Indian city of Udaipur.



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