Bollywood's Bachchan, Rai wed


MUMBAI - Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, one of Bollywood's best-known screen couples, married on Friday in a traditional Hindu wedding in which the groom rode a white horse before the pair took their vows around a sacred fire.

The ceremonies concluded three days of celebrations at the actors' homes in India's entertainment capital of Mumbai, creating, what industry pundits said is, Bollywood's ultimate power couple.

Rai, 33, is a former Miss World and Bachchan, 31, belongs to Indian film royalty, being the son of Amitabh Bachchan, the country's best-known actor who has a huge fan following around the world.

Bachchan, wearing a white "bandhgala" or a long Indian tunic, a silver-colored turban and a veil of flowers on his face, rode a white horse as part of a custom and waved to hundreds of fans gathered outside his house.

The groom's party then moved to another Bachchan residence nearby where the marriage was solemnized by priests who chanted hymns from ancient Indian scriptures amid the blowing of conch shells and ululation, sources involved with the wedding said.

The celebrations have transfixed Bollywood and sent India's celebrity-obsessed media into a frenzy even though the Bachchans have tried to keep the event strictly private and low-key because the groom's grandmother is ill.

But fans did not leave the couple -- dubbed as "Abhiash" by the Indian media which likens them to the Hollywood celebrity duo of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie -- alone as hundreds of them lined the roads leading to the marriage venue.

Police briefly used batons to push back over-enthusiastic fans.

Many fans slept on the pavement outside Bachchan's house to catch a glimpse of the stars.

"I don't have an invitation but I have come to bless the couple," said Keshav Srivastav, a look-alike of Bachchan senior who drew cheers from the amused crowd.

Earlier, the celebrations were marked by drama after an Indian woman claiming to be Bachchan's lover slashed her wrist in front of his home.

She told reporters she wanted to kill herself because Bachchan had gone back on his promise of marrying her after having "physical relations" with her. Police arrested the woman -- described as a struggling fashion model -- for attempting suicide, a punishable offence.

Police refused to register a complaint against Bachchan, saying the model had no proof of the relationship and it looked like a publicity stunt.

Rai and Bachchan have worked together in at least five films, and both have been romantically linked in the past to other Bollywood stars.

Rai, who has acted in over 40 films, was crowned Miss World in 1994. Bachchan too has notched up about 40 movies