Bollywood wedding 22 years in making
New Zealand's first Big Fat Indian wedding stopped traffic and cleared the airways – but without white lions or cheetahs.
In a style reminiscent of a Bollywood movie, Chicago millionaire heir Vikram Aditya Kumar, first rode in on horseback, then on a helicopter and then a chariot to claim his bride, Auckland doctor Pooja Chitgopeker.
The groom's father, Shalabh Kumar, said there was a family joke that he had been planning the wedding since his son was three.
"It was 22 years ago [I began planning the wedding]. I guess I am also fulfilling family dreams."
While the wedding had elements of Hindu ceremony, the three-day event, which climaxed last night with the nuptials, was mostly choreographed theatre.
Mr Kumar wouldn't reveal the cost but hinted it was in the "high seven figures", rumoured at $9m.
Up to 500 guests attended, but there was no sign of the big names invited including 2008 American vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld.
As Dr Chitgopeker demurely waited at the Formosa Resort in east Auckland, the Kumars and hundreds of supporters left the luxury Langham Hotel in a fleet of stretched limousines and buses.
In a Balmoral backstreet, groom and father gingerly mounted white horses, the groomsmen on chestnut horses – all trained by movie wranglers.
With the 200-strong wedding party on foot – accompanied by a truck blaring Punjabi music – the procession moved to Balmoral Rd. A plane pulled a banner "Vikram Aditya Kumar Weds Pooja" as a remote-controlled helicopter got video of the parade.
Professional film crews caught every angle for the couple's home video and India's NDTV series My Big Fat Indian Wedding.
Hundreds of spectators watched Mr Kumar, his face veiled in flowers, led the way. At Bharatiya Mandir temple, priests Acharya Shri Upendrabhai Joshi and Shri Kamlesh Vyas offered blessings.
Air Traffic Control cleared a stretch of sky so Mr Kumar and his aides could fly in a nine helicopter-formation.
Once on the ground, he raced to claim his new wife on a Kiwi-made chariot. After the ceremony, they danced the night away, stopping briefly for fireworks at 11pm.
The Dominion Post