BANGALORE • An Indian mining tycoon took over a palace and flew in Brazilian dancers at a reported cost of US$75 million (S$106 million) for his daughter's wedding, as the country reels from a cash crisis.
A total of 50,000 people were expected to have turned up for the five-day extravaganza at the sprawling Bangalore Palace, a mock Tudor castle in southern India, for the wedding of Mr Gali Janardhana Reddy's daughter Brahmani, Agence France-Presse reported.
The celebration ended yesterday.
Local media criticised the lavish affair at a time when many Indians are struggling to find the cash to buy food after the government pulled high-value notes out of circulation in a bid to tackle tax evasion.
Preparations for the wedding began months in advance, with eight Bollywood directors roped in to create sets resembling ancient Hindu temples for the various ceremonies, said the BBC. Luxury bullock carts were allegedly used to ferry guests from the palace gates to the venue.
The invitations were gold-plated with an LED display of a Bollywood-style song-dance video featuring Mr Reddy and his family.
Speaking to journalists last week, Mr Reddy, 49, refused to reveal how much he was spending on the celebrations, but said everything would be declared to the tax authorities.
Mr Reddy, a former minister with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the southern state of Karnataka, had spent three years in jail for his alleged involvement in a mining scam before he was released on bail last year.
While guests made a beeline yesterday for the grand ceremony that capped the extravagant wedding, some celebrities and high-ranking officials were expected to give it a miss, given its controversy.
Health and Family Welfare Minister KR Ramesh Kumar was the first to announce he would not attend as it was a "public display of wealth", the Times of India reported.
Mr Reddy "has hired about 3,000 bouncers and security guards to prevent media and activists like me from barging into the venue", said activist T. Narasimha Murthy.
Yesterday, sources in the Income Tax department said the wedding was being closely watched, with tax officials discreetly visiting. "We are interested in quantifying the expenditure in such a big event," the NDTV quoted an official as saying.
But one associate defended the expenditure, saying Mr Reddy wanted people to remember the wedding of his only daughter. "It is unfortunate that a daughter's wedding has been made an issue out of envy and rivalry," Mr Manju Swamy told Agence France-Presse.
"It's an important moment for her parents and they wanted to celebrate the event in a way that befits the family's status in society."