In one of the most stunning weddings ever held in Kerala, NRI business tycoon Ravi Pillai's daughter Dr. Arathi Ravi Pillai married Adithya Vishnu, a doctor based at Cochin, on Thursday.
Over 30,000 guests, including a huge galaxy of Mollywood celebrities and a virtual who's who of the Gulf and some European countries, turned up at Ashramam Maidan at Quilon to grace the couple. Federal Minister for Telecommunications Ravi Shankar Prasad and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy are among prominent politicians who attended the function.
The guests from Middle East included members of royal families, diplomats and CEOs of top companies from Baharain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Many of them arrived by chartered flights on Wednesday. The VIPs were hosted at luxury hotels in Quilon and Kovalam in Trivandrum.
Spread across four days, the celebrations were held in different venues in Quilon. A grand set worth Rs230 million was erected in eight acres of land at Ashramam Maidan for the main function. The 350, 000 sq ft set modelled on the palaces of Rajasthan was designed by Sabu Cyril, art director of Bollywood's blockbuster film 'Bahubali'.
It took 75 days for 200 professionals to complete the pandal, which was larger than the set made for 'Bahubali. Many parts for the set were first moulded in clay in Mumbai, and then it was cast in plaster of Paris. Sabu and his team took 40 days to assemble the pre-fabricated structures at the Ashramam Maidan, according to a report in a national daily.
The four-day festivities began with singer Gayathri's bhajan. Noted actresses Manju Warrier and Shobhana regaled the guests with their Kuchippudi and Bharathnatyam performances respectively. The rich feast of cultural programmes included Stephen Devassy's fusion music, Navya Nair's dance fusion, singer Manjari's ghazal recitals and Naga drama by actor Mukhesh and his wife Methil Devika.
The marriage function will conclude with a reception at a luxury hotel on November 28. The actual cost of the fat-wedding is not known. Media has estimated the cost at Rs550 million. This includes Rs100 million the business magnate has earmarked for charities on the occasion.
Pillai, who hails from a farming family, had set his eyes on business after completing his studies in Business Administration at Cochin University. He made his foray into business by launching a chit fund even while studying. Later, he started engineering contract business in the state.
However, a labour strike forced him to close down his business and chase his dream in West Asia like many other Keralite businessmen there. He started off with a small trading business in Saudi Arabia in 1978. Two years later, he moved to construction business and established Nasser Al Hajri Corporation with 150 employees, which has over the years grown to become the flagship company of his business group called R. P Group.
The group, which has expanded its business to UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and several other countries, including his home country of India, not only in construction but also steel, cement, oil, gas and hospitality, now employs over 70,000 workers.
He has also lately made a foray into health care by setting up a 300 multispecialty hospital called Upasana Hospital and Research Centre at Quilon. Forbes listed him, in 2014, in the World's Billionaires at 988 and 30 in India. The Arabian Business ranked him as the fourth most powerful Indian in the Middle East in 2014.
Pillai has justified the extravagant wedding saying that he had earned money through hard work.
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