Grand marriage reception for Sania-Shoaib
Finally R-Day is here. Not the Republic one, but the much-awaited reception day.
Hyderabad's Taj Krishna hotel is fully decked for the grand reception of Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, which is being hosted by the Mirzas.
The reception, being held under a tight security cover, especially to keep the nosy media at bay, is the talk of the town, not just in Sania's home city Hyderabad, but also Sialkot, Shoaib's hometown, Lahore and other Pakistani cities. It has generated so much interest that a unit of Pakistan television channel Geo TV has flown to Hyderabad to cover it
While, officially, the doors of the magnificent Grand Ball Room will be thrown open for invitees at 2000 IST, guests, mainly from across the border, have already started trickling into the hotel.
Text: Mohammed Siddique
Image: Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik during the Sangeet ceremony on Wednesday
Pak Minister, Sohail Tanveer arrive for the reception
In a demonstration of the official patronage Pakistan has extended to the marriage, held three days ago, Pakistan's Minister for Population Firdous Ashiq Awan arrived in Hyderabad with an entourage that included fast bowler Sohail Tanveer, Pakistan's popular Punjabi singer Waris Baig and friends of the cricketer.
"The newly-wed couple will be ambassadors for Pakistan's population welfare program," she declared soon after landing in Hyderabad.
The minister, who represents Sialkot, Shoaib's hometown, in parliament revealed that the people of Sialkot sent a golden crown and other gifts for Sania. She will place the beautiful, intricate golden crown on the bride's head at Thursday night's reception.
She said, since it is the duty of elders to extend patronage to the children, she is "here to do the same".
Image: Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia entertains the crowd during the Sangeet ceremony
Talat Aziz's special ghazal
The evening will also see a fusion of music and singing from across the border.
Sania's uncle, famous ghazal singer Talat Aziz, will render a special one on the occasion, which will be matched by another beautiful song for the newly-wed couple by Waris Baig of Pakistan.
"I dedicate this song to Shoaib and Sania. I have sung it especially for them; I hope it will be liked by them," he said.
Tanveer said, "I am here as a representative of the entire Pakistani cricket team. The entire Pakistani nation and Pakistani team is very happy and excited that Shoaibbhai has made Sania our bhabi," he said.
"I don't know about India, but everybody in Pakistan is taking this marriage in a very positive way and celebrating it. If it is taken in a positive way, it will be of great help in brining India and Pakistan closer. We are very excited."
"Sania is bhabi (sister-in-law) of Pakistani. Now she is our honour and prestige," he added.
Image: Talat Aziz performs during the Sangeet ceremony
SRK, Bhupathi to skip the celebrations
According to the Mirza family sources, about 1000 people, including film, sports stars and politicians have been invited for the reception, though indications are that many of them may not turn up.
The Bachchan family heads the list of those not coming. Others include Shahrukh Khan and Salman Khan, Leander Paes and Saina Nehwal. Leander's wife Rhea Pillai though will grace the occasion.
While Mahesh Bhupathi, a close friend of Sania is unlikely to come, his father has already arrived and expressed confidence that Sania will continue playing for India even after the marriage.
Sachin Tendulkar's presence too is doubtful, as he is busy with the Indian Premier League matches.
From the world of fashion, Nikhil-Shantanu, the famous designer duo, have arrived. They designed the outfits Sania and Shoaib will wearing in the evening.
Image: Shoaib Malik with his his bride and her family
No access for media persons
On the political front, Chief Minister K Rosaiah is unlikely to attend as he was away in Delhi, but former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu will be present.
The organizers have made it pretty clear that the media will have no access to the reception, and, as happened during last few days, all the television camerapersons, still photographers and reporters will have to cool their heels outside the main gate of the hotel.
Some clever TV channels' crew, who had taken rooms in Taj Krishna hoping for backdoor access, will have no luck as the hotel staff is keeping a hawk's eye on their movements; they have been made it clear that they will not be allowed anywhere except their own floor.
They have also been asked to deposit their cameras with the hotel store room.
Image: Neha Dhupia with Sania's friend Manzy