Mumbai Blasts: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Postpones French Honor Ceremony

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NEW DELHI – Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan postponed an award ceremony due after the latest terror attack in Mumbai, as bomb blasts hit three busy parts of the city Wednesday evening during rush hour.

The bombs went off just after 7 pm in Zaveri Bazar, Opera House and Dadar which have killed an estimated 22 while injuring over 130 people.

The former Miss World was in Delhi, scheduled to attend a special ceremony organised by the French Embassy, where she was to receive the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) from the French government. The event attracted great interest, as this was to be her first official public appearance since the 37-year-old actress recently confirmed she is pregnant with her first child.

But Rai requested the ceremony be postponed as she addressed guests and reporters.

“We are very shocked and saddened by this incident. Our prayers are with the people affected. It is important for us Indians to stand strong and tell the perpetrators of terrorism that they cannot shake us. We believe that justice will be done. We pray for the victims and their families. And keeping in mind what's happened, we didn't deem it prudent to celebrate. My family and I felt it would be prudent to request that the ceremony be postponed, and we thank the French government for understanding our sentiments in the current situation,” she said.

The actress was accompanied by her husband, actor Abhishek Bachchan, and French ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont. Expressing his “condolences and condemnation”, Bonnafont said France stood with India and the victims of the blasts and that out of respect for the victims of the tragedy, it had been decided to postpone the ceremony to a later date.

This is the second time the event has been postponed, as the French honor was first announced for Bachchan in 2009 but at the time the ceremony could not be held due to the actress' personal commitments.

In addition to other family members, also present at the ceremony was Aishwarya's father-in-law, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, who received the same French honor in 2007.

Meanwhile, as news of the Mumbai bomb blasts hit prime-time telecasts, Bollywood celebrities posted messages on Twitter.

“Terrible news about the blast. A request, please do not cause panic by tweeting/ spreading rumors/unconfirmed news,” said top actress Priyanka Chopra while also giving helpline numbers.

“Before Mumbai turns into Baghdad, Kabul and Lahore, before Taliban see India as easy target and send suicide squads, India needs firm leadership,” Elizabeth  director  Shekhar Kapur tweeted.

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