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India marks Bollywood 'wedding of the century'

Astrologers were consulted, the gods gave their blessings, the white stallion was ready and delirious fans milled around the marigold-bedecked home. The stage was set for Bollywood's "wedding of the century."
Bollywood star Bachchan rides a horse as he arrives for his wedding in Mumbai
Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan, son of India's best known actor, Amitabh Bachchan, arrives at  one of his father's residences for his wedding with Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai. The wedding will create Bollywood's ultimate power couple — Rai is a former Miss World and Bachchan is the heir to India's most celebrated film family. Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

MUMBAI, India —Astrologers were consulted, the gods gave their blessings, the white stallion was ready and delirious fans milled around the marigold-bedecked home. The stage was set for Bollywood's "wedding of the century."

Film-crazy India held its breath Friday as two of its biggest stars, the emerald-eyed former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, a romantic hero and son of an Indian cinema legend, celebrated their wedding.

The affair, hyped by Indian media as "the wedding of the century," was filled with the melodrama so beloved in Bollywood, India's flamboyant Hindi film industry: secrecy, dance routines and even a suicidal fan who claimed to be the groom's jilted lover.

Hundreds of fans cheered as Bachchan, wearing a gold and cream turban — his face covered with a traditional veil of white flowers — emerged onto the streets outside his home astride a white stallion, giving his admirers a thumbs-up sign while his friends danced around him.

Bachchan bobbed his head and punched the air with his hands in time to a Bollywood tune played by an accompanying band of red-turbaned musicians.

He then made his way to a huge, flower-filled, air-conditioned tent encircled by gold curtains in the garden adjoining the Bachchan family home — where to the sound of trumpets, drums and clanging cymbals, he and Rai reportedly exchanged garlands and wedding vows.

A super sari
Rai remained hidden inside the barricaded venue, but the Indian media was split down the middle with reports that she either wore a red-and-gold, intricately embroidered sari, or a gold-and-cream creation.

Hundreds of fans lined the roads, climbed trees or scaled buildings, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wedding party.

Despite the intense interest in the fairy tale wedding, details — from the clothes the couple would wear to the guest list — have been shrouded in secrecy. Dozens of police officers kept overeager fans away from the stars.

However, the festivities were marred when a young woman slit her wrists outside the Bachchan home in Mumbai early Friday.

Identifying herself as Jhanvi Kapoor, she said Bachchan had promised to marry her after they met when she was one of the dancers in a promotional music video for a movie "Dus" ("Ten"), in which Bachchan starred two years ago.

"He is not talking to me," she told reporters. "I want to know why he doesn't talk to me."

Arrested for suicide attempt
She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, then arrested by police for attempting to commit suicide — a crime in India.

"This is a stunt," said police officer A. Mohite. "She seemed to have done this purely to catch the attention of the media."

She was later released on bail of 10,000 rupees ($238).

Tight police security covered the venue. The guest list was a who's who of India's rich and famous: film stars, top industrialists and politicians.

Fans and media have been crowding around Bachchan and Rai's residence since pre-wedding ceremonies began two days ago. Some brought boxes of sweets, and said they wanted to bless the couple.

The frenzy surrounding the two stars has been virtually nonstop since they first started dating after starring together in a film.

Astrologers consulted
India has followed them every step of the way to the altar, from visits to temples to overcome the fact that Rai was born under an unlucky sign, to consultations with astrologers to pick an auspicious day for the wedding.

Bachchan, 31, and Rai, 33, were engaged in a private ceremony in January.

Rai, who first captured India's attention when she was crowned Miss World in 1994, has become one of its biggest stars and one of India's most recognized faces overseas. She has acted in more than 30 movies and starred in several commercials for cosmetic and cola companies.

Bachchan comes from a famous Bollywood movie family — his father, Amitabh, is a Bollywood legend and his mother, Jaya, also is a famous actor.