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Billionaire heir Anant Ambani isn’t tying the knot with fiancé Radhika Merchant until July, but the lavish festivities have already started — and the A-list attendees have attracted international attention.

Some of the world’s biggest entertainers, business tycoons and influential people have arrived this week in India’s Gujarat state to celebrate the three-day pre-wedding festivities. Already, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Ivanka Trump and Hillary Clinton are among those on the guest list in the city of Jamnagar.

Anant, 28, is the son of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of the conglomerate Reliance Industries and Asia’s richest person. Mukesh, whose father Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966 founded Reliance (which has since grown to include massive refining, retail and financial operations) is the ninth-richest person in the world, with a net worth of US$116.8 billion, according to Forbes.

Chairman of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, left, waves to the photographers as he poses with his family members on the occasion of engagement of his son Anant Ambani, third left, with Radhika Merchant, second left, during a ceremony in Mumbai, India, on Jan. 19, 2023.

AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

Mukesh is reportedly footing the bill for much of the wedding celebrations, and it’s clear no expense has been spared. Pop star and business mogul Rihanna is set to perform at the festivities. Illusionist David Blaine will also wow audiences at the party, as well as Indian music star Diljit Dosanjh, People magazine reported.

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Rihanna arrived in Jamnagar, Gujarat, on Thursday, with boyfriend A$AP Rocky in tow. Her arrival brought even more excitement to those eagerly watching the pre-wedding festivities in India and beyond.

Much of the event will be held at the luxurious Ambani Estate in Jamnagar. There are 1,200 guests set to attend the pre-wedding gala, according to the BBC.

Among them are Disney CEO Bob Iger, Indian billionaires Gautam Adani and Kumar Mangalam Birla and members of Bhutan’s royal family.

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From the Bollywood world, stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan are also attending the celebrations.

A feast for 51,000

Early wedding celebrations kicked off on Wednesday, when Anant and Radhika, 29, hosted a communal dinner for local villagers that served 51,000, Reuters reported.

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The dinner, hosted near Reliance Township in Jamnagar, saw the bride, groom and their family members serve up traditional Gujrati food in the hopes of obtaining the community’s blessing for the couple’s union, according to The Hindu.

Anant Ambani and bride Radhika Merchant interacting with guests during a community food service held as part of their pre-wedding celebrations near Jamnagar, India, on Wednesday.

Reliance Group via AP

‘Jungle fever’ and other themed events

People magazine reported wedding guests received a detailed, nine-page dress code for the three-day festivities.

On the second day, wedding guests will be brought to the Ambani’s animal rescue, which features more than 2,000 animals and has one of the world’s largest elephant hospitals. Guests were told to wear an outfit in line with a “jungle fever” theme (animal prints or Hawaiian shirts encouraged), as well as “comfortable shoes.”

Then in the evening, the party will again adopt a more formal setting, for a “Mela Rouge” party. (“Mela” is the word for a fair or Hindu festival; “Rouge” signifies the colour red.)

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And again, on the third day, wedding guests will attend a “tusker trails” event, where they will be surrounded by “the wonders of nature,” including animals like elephants, reptiles and big cats.

In the evening of the third day, festivities will round out with a formal party necessitating a “Heritage Indian” dress code.

Who is Anant Ambani?

Anant is the youngest of his three siblings. All of the Ambani children are on the board of Reliance. The siblings each head a different subsection of the business, with Anant spearheading Reliance’s energy business. (Reliance is currently pivoting toward a green energy initiative and has pledged to deploy US$80 billion over the next 10 to 15 years in investments in renewable energy and new refining facilities, Forbes reported.)

Anant graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

He is the last of his siblings to get married. His siblings also had very lavish ceremonies, with Beyoncé performing at sister Isha Ambani’s pre-wedding party in 2018. Anant’s older brother, Akash Ambani, had Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and The Chainsmokers perform at his winter wonderland-themed pre-wedding event in Switzerland in 2019.

Click to play video: 'Beyonce arrives in India for pre-wedding bash of Mukesh Ambani’s daughter'

Beyonce arrives in India for pre-wedding bash of Mukesh Ambani’s daughter

Radhika also comes from a wealthy family, and is daughter to the wealthy business mogul Viren Merchant, CEO of the pharma company Encore Healthcare Private Ltd. Viren’s net worth, according to GQ India, is about C$126.76 million.

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Radhika graduated from New York University and serves as a director at her father’s pharmaceutical company.

Anant and Radhika are set to marry on July 12 in Mumbai.

Guests have fun in India

On top of the wedding festivities, some of the influential, international guests have used the visit to India as an opportunity to see the local sights.

Bill Gates shared a video of himself ordering chai tea from a street vendor. In his since-viral video, Gates, 68, said he is “excited to be back in India, the home to incredible innovators.”

“In India, you can find innovation everywhere you turn—even in the preparation of a simple cup of tea!” Gates wrote.

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On Friday, Mark Zuckerberg shared two photos of he and wife, Priscilla Chan, in their formalwear. Zuckerberg, 39, wore a black suit with dragonfly decals, while Chan, 39, wore a floor-length, sleeveless black gown with two large, gold roses.

“Love an Indian wedding. Congrats to Anant and Radhika!” wrote Zuckerberg.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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