Russell Brand's wedding fit for a maharajah

Comedian and his fiancée Katy Perry arrive in India for week-long marriage celebration

When Barbara Brand gave birth to her only child in a dingy Essex hospital, she probably never imagined that, 35 years later, she would watch him arrive on a white horse at a Maharajah's Palace, before joining guests for a bit of wild-tiger spotting.

However, Mrs Brand is now readying her hat for her son Russell's marriage to the Californian singer Katy Perry in a weekend of celebrations that, even by the comedian's own flamboyant standards, will be outrageously extravagant.

Brand, 35, and 25-year-old Perry arrived in the city of Jaipur in India's northern state of Rajasthan yesterday, the historical home of India's maharajahs, or high kings.

The couple will have a Hindu engagement ceremony today and then – in keeping with Hindu traditions that neither party is known to have followed hitherto – will begin several days of festivities.

Among those expected to attend are Jonathan Ross, David Baddiel, David Walliams and Perry's pop-star friend, Rihanna. The wedding itself is expected to take place in the Rambagh Palace Hotel, the former residence of the Maharajah of Jaipur and now amongst the world's most opulent hotels. It was a favourite of Jackie Kennedy's, and the Queen and Prince Philip rated it highly. It was here that Brand proposed, last New Year's Eve, three months after first meeting Perry at the MTV Music Video Awards.

The couple have booked all 10 of the £830-a-night tents at the luxurious Aman-i-Khas camp in the nearby Ranthambore National Park, one of the few places left on earth where visitors have a reasonable chance of catching a glimpse of a wild tiger.

Perry is expected to have her hands decorated with henna tattoos in a traditional Indian pre-wedding ritual, while the ceremony itself will feature many traditional Hindu elements, including the arrival of Brand on a white horse.

Perry has been reportedly getting stressed ahead of the big day, resulting in a resurgence of the anxiety-induced acne she has previously admitted to suffering from.

Brand, meanwhile, has been keen to play down the perceived extravagance of the wedding – a tricky task for a ceremony incorporating at various stages tigers, elephants, a horse, and a reported live performance from the rapper P Diddy – claiming it will be no different to anybody else's nuptials.

"It will have a first dance, it will have all of them things, like anything else," he said. "It's no more interesting or no less spectacular than any marriage of anybody. So it's very beautiful and incredible and wonderful, but it's also utterly mundane."

Their big fat Hindu weddings

* Russell Brand's is by no means the first extravagant Hindu wedding, though the most expensive of all took place not in India but France. In 2004 Vanisha, the daughter of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, married Delhi banker Amit Bhatia. A thousand guests were entertained for five days, with fireworks at the Eiffel Tower. The ceremony cost £30m.

* Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall converted to Hinduism in November 1990, before their marriage on the Hindu island of Bali. A Hindu priest presided over both ceremonies. The relationship was annulled nine years later at the High Court in London on the grounds it was not valid under either English or Indonesian law.

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