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Extravagant Rites Draw Barbs : In Tune With Stars, India Wedding Is Fit for Rajahs

December 11, 1987|Reuters

GWALIOR, India — In the palace of a maharajah at a time set by the stars, a prince and a princess were married today in an ornate ceremony reminiscent of Mogul extravagance.

The ceremony in central India began at precisely 7:54 p.m., the time fixed as most auspicious by princely astrologers for the marriage of Crown Prince Vikramaditya Singh of Kashmir and Princess Chitrangada Raje Scindia of Gwalior.

Eleven minutes later, as Hindu priests chanted mantras and guests tossed rice and rose petals, a richly brocaded red veil between the bride and groom was dropped, and the now-married couple turned to face each other.

The wedding in the Maharajah of Gwalior's sprawling Jai Vilas Palace united two of India's most distinguished former ruling families.

More than 50,000 people jammed the palace grounds and city streets, witnesses said.

The 20-year-old bride is an English literature student in New Delhi. Her 23-year-old polo-playing groom has just finished business studies at the University of California.

The wedding's fairy-tale aspect was clouded by adverse comment in the Indian press, which has criticized the maharajah, Madhavrao Scindia, for unseemly extravagance at a time of widespread drought and hardship across India.

Scindia, railway minister in the Indian Cabinet, in a gesture toward the drought which devastated farming districts around Gwalior, told his guests that the traditional lavish wedding feast would not be served.

This prompted the influential Times of India to comment today that the farmers "would no doubt be touched by (Scindia's) concern for their plight."

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