Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor tied the knot on Sunday, with Dubai-based entrepreneur Sunanda Pushkar in a typical Malayali wedding ceremony in his ancestral home at Elavanchery village near Pallakkad, in Kerala.
54-year-old Tharoor, a former UN under secretary general and now a Lok Sabha MP, tied the 'thali', symbolising the marital bond as per the Hindu custom, amid playing of 'Nadaswaram' and beating of drums at the auspicious moment shortly before 0830 hrs. While Tharoor was clad in traditional Malayali attire of kurtha and mundu, 48-year-old Sunanda, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, turned up in an off-white 'veshti-mundu set' like any Malayali bride would have preferred on her wedding.
Before the wedding ceremony, the two sought the blessings of gods and elders of the family, who included Tharoor's 94-year-old maternal grandmother Jayasankari Amma. The tying of 'thali' was followed by exchange of garlands and handing over the 'pudava', a piece of new cloth to the bride by the bridegroom, a long-followed tradition of matrilineal Nair families of Kerala. The ceremonies took place before a brass metal lamp with a 'para' filled with paddy and coconut shoots, symbolising prosperity and plenty.
The invitation to the wedding on the eve of Onam festival was limited to close relatives, friends and well-wishers. But a large number of mediapersons gathered to cover the occasion. The party from the bride's side included Sunanda's father Colonel Pushkarnath Das. Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar was the only senior politician present for the ceremony. Tharoor's mother Lily Tharoor, sons from his first marriage Eshan and Kanishk and sisters Sobha and Smitha were also present. Tharoor, an MP from Thiruvananthapuram, had to quit on April 18 as Minister of State for External Affairs following a controversy over his association with the bid for the Kochi IPL team. Controversy had become the other name for Tharoor who had parachuted into the rough and tumble of Indian politics from the air-conditioned and cushy environs of international diplomacy. The year-long turbulent political career of the flamboyant diplomat saw him leaping from controversy to controversy leaving his party Congress as also the government red-faced from time to time. He was an unconventional politician who broke many unwritten rules of politics and raised many an eyebrow by 'tweeting' on matters -- both personal and not so personal.
This is the former UN diplomat's third marriage. His first marriage was to Tilottama Mukherjee, an academic who he knew from school days in Kolkata. Tharoor recently divorced his second wife, Canadian Christa Giles.
Image: Sashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar register their marriage at Palakkad in Kerala.
Photograph: Jay Mandal