First we had Justin Timberlake’s wedding here in Puglia but he is about to be eclipsed in a big way. Enter UK based Indian billionaire Premod Agarwal. Premod is in iron ore in a big way. A Bombay boy he went to Brazil in the early 1990’s and did a deal to buy as much iron ore as they could mine. China took off a few years later and the price of iron ore went from a few bucks to 200 a tonne and Premod coined in the cash.
He is quite reclusive and is a devout Hindu being both strictly vegetarian and tea total but he has three daughters and when they marry Premod dips into the coffers in a big way. Daughter one was married in India, daughter two was married in Venice in an event that stopped the city and is still talked about. Step forward daughter three and Premod has chosen Puglia or more specifically two hotels the San Domenico and the Borgia Egnazia. If you phone them for a booking between August 30th and September 8th they happily tell you they are both fully booked . Premod has sucked up every room in the area for his 800 wedding guests, 300 seamstresses, India cooks, workers and stage acts plus 400 staff from Balich Worldwide Shows who are based in Milan but did all the shows at the London Olympics. Like I said Premod pushes the boat out !
At daughter number two’s wedding Shakira was flown in from Los Angeles to perform live and who is coming for this one is still a well kept secret.
This weekend two Asian elephants are being flown in. One for the groom to be be carried to the wedding .
The event lasts from Sept 3 to Sept 6th. Three parties are planned for each day. One at Borgo Egnazia , one at San Domenica and the finale on the beach at Cala Masciola.
Two huge marques are being erected one for the kitchens which will cook Indian food every day for all the guests and one for the other workers to do things like making saris etc for the guests and doing mahindi for the female guests plus the 70 Puglian girls chosen to be hostesses for the event. These girls all selected for their fluency in English ( I wonder where they found them ) will be throwing rose petals over the guests, presenting garlands and showing people to their tables etc.
This is mahindi
When based in Bombay with British Airways we were invited to many indian weddings and they are sumptuous occasions. The biggest was for the daughter of one of the billionaire ( even then) Hinduja brothers. It went on for a week and the invitations one of which arrived each day were each individually painted by the top Indian artist of the time. We also were dressed for the main event in full Indian gear with me learning how to tie a turban in case it started to unwind during the dancing which it did. The bride had a gold sari made that was so heavy she could barely walk and then guests pinned money to it as presents. Thousands and thousands of pounds let me add.
I have never seen such wealth on display like at all Indian weddings. Our driver at the time had two daughters and no son and his entire life was spent trying to save enough money for the dowry that he would have to pay to get them married. It is all relative but from his wages he will have spent probably in a ratio the same as Premod is doing.
The Venice show was reckoned to have knocked him back US$10 million at least and this one is going to be more.
The only cloud on the horizon for the event is the fear of full scale protests by Italians about the Puglian marines still held in India over the shooting, in international waters, of an Indian fisherman whose boat they feared was actually pirates coming to seize their ship. The Italians sent them back after Christmas at home last year thinking they would stand trial but nothing has happened.
Police presence is going to be vast says the chief of police and most roads around Savelletri will closed off with residents living in the area given passes. This they say reflects the worry about demonstrations but also that the guests at the event are estimated to control some 25% of total Indian wealth and that is a staggering figure these days.
The mayor of Fassano the town that controls the area who is called quite confusingly Sr. Bari is on the guest list and has said that he hopes this wedding will bring yet more prosperity to the area. How many he muses of the 800 guests will come back to holiday here.
Not many I fear Sr. Bari as Indians really do want authentic Indian food when on holiday and to date there isn’t a single curry shop in Puglia. When I have been with Indian friends in London they have always taken me to excellent curry places where when you walk in it is just like being in Bombay or Delhi. Everyone knows everyone else as they are all visiting and spending time in their London houses whilst escaping the summer heat and rains.
Oh well lets do the headline now shall we.