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Royal weddings

We take you through some of the grandest yest classiest Indian Royal weddings celebrated ever.

As Namma Mysuru is all set to witness the Royal wedding celebrations of Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the scion of the Royal family of Mysuru and Trishika Kumari Singh, daughter of Harshavardhan Singh, the Yuvaraja of Dungarpur, Rajasthan and Mahesri Kumarim, City Today’s Willi H Anthony takes you through some of the grandest yet classiest Indian Royal weddings celebrated ever.

True in the words of ‘Gianni Versace’, “In the past, people were born royal. Nowadays, royalty comes from what you do.” Having said that the modern-day Maharajas are more than wealthy and influential – what’s more, they still very well know how to arrange a lavish, opulent and a fairytale wedding (call it a royal affair!). But in this whole bling culture, the genteel elegance of old days may have been lost, when thousand of guests would dine on silver plates to exotic dishes like Shikampuri kebabs and Habshi halwas.

Here are some the grandest and classiest if not the best royal weddings ever celebrated:

  • Princess of Jaipur and Yuvraj of Devgadh Baria (May 27,  1948)

Princess Prem Kumari, the eldest daughter of Maharaja Sawai Mann Singh of Jaipur, married Yuvraj Jaideep Singhji of Devgadh Baria in 1948. This was the first wedding of Maharaja of Jaipur’s daughter in almost 100 years. So the celebrations were grand. All major royal houses were invited. The logistics and catering arrangements were prodigious and the preparations were made with utmost precision. The book of instructions to the Jaipur’s staff was about two inches thick, detailing every party, festivity, ceremony and entertainment, containing programs for each group of guests and their staff. Even the menus for the servants and vantage points assigned to them for watching the processions were carefully worked out. The wedding festivities lasted around two weeks.

Princess_of_Jaipur_Yuvaraj_of_Devgadh_Baria
Princess of Jaipur and Yuvraj of Devgadh Baria

For the wedding banquet, long tables were decorated with flowers and plates loaded with rich meat curries, several kinds of Pulao and sweets covered with gold leaf were the pick of the lot.  The tables glowed with bright gleam of gold and silver thali bowls and goblets. The marriage ceremony took place at the zenana of the city palace. This was perhaps first time in many years that the Jaipur City palace was actually filled with people. It was followed by gaiety and celebration all over the state. Exuberant displays of fireworks, feeding the poor and releasing some prisoners were the order of the day. The famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was called to take photographs on this special occasion.

  • Princess of Jodhpur and Yuvraj of Baroda (Engaged on July 19, 1915)

Perhaps the first wedding of the Jodhpur royal family to receive big international media coverage was that of Princess Rajendra Kanwar of Jodhpur (Aunt of current Maharaja Gaj Sinhji) to Yuvraj Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad of Baroda. LIFE magazine as well as all major international publications carried full photo features of this wedding. It was a Maratha-Rajput wedding attended by 54 Maharajas, 55 lesser princes and 306 nobles.

Princess_of_Jodhpur_Yuvaraj_of_Baroda
Princess of Jodhpur and Yuvraj of Baroda

The wedding of scions of two of India’s premier royal families was meticulously planned. A 12-man committee was formed to look after the wedding and logistics. Maharaja Hanuwant Singh personally supervised the marriage of his sister. The massive Umaid Bhawan palace and Meherangarh fort were specially decorated for the wedding. Wedding reports state that the 4500 wedding guests were accommodated and the catering was done by 60 butlers, 60 English style cooks and 125 Indian cooks.

The Barat arrived from Baroda in a special train. The men folk were housed at Umaid Bhawan while the bride and royal ladies stayed at Meherangarh. There was a grand ceremonial procession through the streets of Jodhpur. This was followed by the main ceremony at Umaid Bhawan. The traditional Vedic ceremony lasted for two and half hours while the guests enjoyed drinks and music. This was followed by series of receptions. The total cost of the wedding? A whopping $1.4 million in 1948 currency value! (Seriously speaking that simply is a ‘WOW’ value even in rupees)

  • Princess of Gwalior and Maharaja of Tripura (March 6,  1960)

The SUN, a famous tabloid published in London carried the headline ‘Gems dazzle as Princess weds in India’ followed by ‘Rich Rajas turn out for colorful rites at Bombay Palace’. This was princely pageantry at its best. The occasion was the wedding of Princess Padmaraje Scindia, the eldest child of Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia and Maharani Vijayaraje Scindia to Maharaja Kirit Bikram Deb Barman of Tripura. The backdrop of the wedding was Samudra Mahal, the spectacular waterfront palace of the Scindias in Bombay.

Princess_of_Gwalior_Maharaja_of_Tripura
Princess of Gwalior and Maharaja of Tripura

The wedding began with the series of cocktails and receptions in Gwalior and Calcutta. A special train was chartered to bring the groom’s party from Calcutta. Invitations were sent to more than 10,000 guests and every hotel room in Bombay was booked for the occasion. The who’s who of Bombay turned up for the wedding. Guests included royals from Gwalior, Kolhapur, Indore, Morvi as well as the Parsi aristocracy of Bombay. Varieties of flowers were specially imported from abroad for the wedding. But the most notable aspect of the wedding was the mile-long barat. This found a special mention in TIME Magazine. Princess Padmaraje was given gifts worth 1 million dollars which would be worth hundreds of crores today. (Call it a Million dollar gift wedding)

  • Princess of Jaisalmer and Maharaja of Rajpipla (March 5, 1964)

This was the first Indian wedding to be covered by National Geographic magazine. The magazine wanted to cover an authentic Hindu ceremony and the Rajpipla-Jaisalmer wedding was the perfect occasion. Maharaja Raghubirsinhji Gohil of Rajpipla married Princess Rukmani Devi of Jaisalmer in a grand ceremony at the Jaisalmer fort. The wedding festivities began with lavish parties and processions at Rajpipla. Then, a special train took the bridegroom and the members of the Rajpipla court to Jaisalmer. The wedding had the spectacular backdrop of the golden fort of Jaisalmer.

Princess_of_Jaisalmer_Maharaja_of_Rajpipla
Princess of Jaisalmer and Maharaja of Rajpipla

The wedding guests included the who’s who of Gujarati royalty and virtually all of Rajasthan aristocracy. The bride was bedecked in finest Rajasthani heirloom jewellery which had been passed down from generations. The wedding festivities reflected the highly sophisticated tastes of the jet setting Rajpipla family as well as the extremely orthodox Jaisalmer family. The National Geographic carried it all in detail with great solemnity wanting to decode a Maharajah’s wedding for all their readers around the globe. Raghubir Singhji and Rukmani Devi’s son is the famous Prince Manvendra of Rajpipla. (Royalty at its best)

  • Princess of Gwalior and Yuvraj of Kashmir (December 16,  1987)

Termed by New York Times as the ‘Wedding of the decade’ and considered to be the last of the grand royal weddings– Chitrangada Scindia, daughter of Madhavrao Scindia of Gwalior to Vikramaditya Singh, son of Dr Karan Singh of Jammu & Kashmir. The wedding was covered in NY Times, Washinton Post, San Fransico Chronicle and of course all well known Indian magazines and newspapers.

Princess_of_Gwalior_Yuvaraja_of_Kashmir
Princess of Gwalior and Yuvraj of Kashmir

The Jai Vilas Palace glistened with a fresh coat of white paint and shone with thousands of tiny yellow lights and musicians played traditional ragas from all corners. The platforms of Gwalior railway station were paved with gleaming marble to welcome the wedding guests. More than 40,000 guests, including villagers who arrived in bullock carts, filled the grounds of Jai Vilas Palace A special helipad was built for the convenience of various dignitaries which included the entire cabinet as well as Kings of Nepal and Bhutan. In the gold plated banqueting hall, the famous Scindia silver train carried wine and port for guests chugging on its rails of silver. The wedding of Chitrangada Scindia is remembered as one of the most opulent royal weddings ever and is used as a benchmark to measure the grandeur of the weddings even after two decades! (No wonder it is ‘The wedding of the decade’)

  • Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar married Pramoda Devi ( 1976 )

When Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar married Pramoda Devi from the Bettada Kote Ursu family of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore in February 1976, the whole city was in a festive mood, making history in its own opulent way. Needless to say the wedding was a grand affair in itself. Apart from a wide assortment of delicacies it was Pramoda Devi who stole the show. Least to say pomp and grandeur were the order of the day.

Mysore_Maharaja


Now given the fact that the royal wedding in Mysuru has been slated to be a ‘simple’ affair, only time will eventually say what’s in store on the ‘big day’ and the rest as they say will surely be a royal history for keeps.

City Today, on behalf of its readers, wishes Yaduveer and Trishika! -Happiness for the rest of their wonderful lives together!

 

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