JODHPUR: Actress Elizabeth Hurley married Indian businessman Arun Nayar on 9 March in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Rajasthan where the groom trotted down the aisle on a horse.
The ceremony in the historic city of Jodhpur wrapped up a week of lavish wedding celebrations in India after their civil marriage last week at a castle in England.
Hurley, 41, her 42-year-old husband Nayar and their 240 guests enjoyed the kind of pageantry once reserved for maharajahs as they shuttled between palaces and an ancient hilltop fort around Jodhpur.
Following the ceremony, the wedding party headed to the city’s huge Meherangarh Fort overlooking the blue-painted city to feast on Jodhpur’s rich, buttery cuisine, accompanied by traditional Rajasthani singers and showers of flower petals.
The guests will dine on obscure Indian cuisine from Rajasthan, including wheat dumplings mixed into a soup of savoury lentils and food wrapped in leaves and cooked by embers while buried in the earth.
The wedding sparked some controversy in Rajasthan’s state assembly, where a communist politician dubbed the event as a symbol of feudalism, the PTI news agency reported.
On 9 March, a crowd of about 50 journalists stormed through security officials guarding the fort as curious wedding guests took pictures of the chaos a few hours after the ceremony.
The couple’s two-night stopover in Mumbai earlier in the week was also immersed in problems after authorities tore down part of a venue built to host the wedding party because it infringed on a popular beach.
Hurley, who has been staying at the grand, sandstone Umaid Bhawan Palace, had sported elaborate henna tattoos after she and her female guests took part in a traditional ceremony earlier this week.
Hurley and Nayar went on Thursday to Nagaur Fort, about 130 km outside the city, for a musical ceremony that included qawwali, or devotional hymns performed by Sufi Muslims.
There was a wedding caravan involving 12 horses and 60 camel carts and fireworks in the evening, a Jodhpur newspaper reported.
Nayar wore a diamond-encrusted sherwani, it added.
Designer Rohit Bal said he had designed many of the clothes being worn by the couple, who have been partying non-stop since their civil marriage last week at a castle in England.
But very few of the A-list celebrities touted in the media as potential guests turned up in Jodhpur.
Hurley split with actor Hugh Grant in 2000, ending a 13-year relationship that survived Grant’s well-publicised encounter with a prostitute. In 2002, she had a son with U.S. film producer Steve Bing, but brought the child up as a single mother.
She met Nayar, a jet set businessman and a friend of Bollywood film stars, shortly after her son was born. Hurley and Nayar had a civil wedding last week at an English castle.
The celebrities, and the international press pack following them, have bemused the residents of Jodhpur, most of whom are hearing about Hurley and Nayar for the first time.
“She is the oldest bride Jodhpur has ever seen”, said Kastury Ghosh, a bridal shop manager, one of many residents struck by Hurley’s age in a country where most women become wives in their early twenties.