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Sajid beats Saif to the altar

- After civil marriage, a suspense at play
Newly-weds Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor greet fans after their registered marriage in Mumbai on Tuesday. (AP)

Oct. 16: Kareena Kapoor married Sajid Ali Khan in a civil ceremony this afternoon at the Bandra home she shares with her boyfriend of five years.

“Kareena did not marry Saif. She married Sajid Ali Khan,” marriage registrar Surekha Ramesh Lokhare said afterwards.

Few know that Sajid is Saif’s official name.

Kareena’s parents Babita and Randhir Kapoor and Saif’s mother Sharmila Tagore signed as witnesses, the registrar said.

Saif had sent his car to the family court to pick up Lokhare, who reached the couple’s residence Fortune Heights around 11.30am.

The couple appeared on the balcony around 2pm, Kareena sparkling in a mehendi green churidar kurta and red dupatta. She wore little jewellery — just earrings and red bangles were visible — and only a spot of mehendi on her hands. But she had a big smile as she posed for pictures.

Saif’s son Ibrahim, 12, from his first marriage, left school early to go for the wedding that was attended by family and a few close friends. His daughter Sara, 17, skipped the registration but was there at the Taj Mahal hotel in the evening when the couple exchanged vows and rings in a Christian ceremony, followed by a havan.

Kareena’s mother Babita is Christian while her father is Hindu.

But the question many were asking was: “Nikaah hua?”

In Bhopal, Anwar Mohammad Khan’s phone rang constantly. “Mubarak ho,” the callers greeted the secretary of Auqaf–e-Shahi who assists the family in running the dozens of waqf properties owned by Bhopal’s erstwhile nawabs. The question followed: “Have they had a nikaah?”

“We are told there will be a nikaah,” said Khan, who had served Saif’s father Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi for several decades.

“Begum Saba Ali Khan is muttawalli (patron) of Auqaf-e-Shahi and Saif Ali Khan is taken as nawab of Bhopal,” Khan added, pointing out that while official titles may have been discontinued, in popular imagination, Saif is the nawab of Bhopal and Pataudi.

Sharmila had a nikaah with Mansur Ali Khan, wearing the dress her mother-in-law, Begum Sajida Sultan of Bhopal, had worn at her own wedding. She has now passed on the dress to daughter-in-law Kareena.

“They were earlier supposed to have a nikaah in Mumbai…. But later on it was decided to have the nikaah in Pataudi for sentimental reasons. If a nikaah also takes place, Kareena will wear Sharmilaji’s wedding sharara in Pataudi,” a Kapoor family source said.

Kareena, who is a practising Christian, was earlier thought to have preferred a wedding without conversion. But late tonight, sources said, she was not ruling out a rethink, possibly to nip in the bud a potential controversy.

The Jamiat-e-Ulema chief of Maharashtra announced today that without conversion, there can be no nikaah for Kareena and Saif, who is a practising Muslim.

Scholars explain that nikaah is a public declaration of a couple to live as man and wife and promise to live according to the Islamic faith. A qazi, assisted by two witnesses who are usually close relatives of the bride and the groom, take their consent and declare the couple married. A dua follows, in which all present seek divine blessings for the newly-weds.

Old-timers in Bhopal recalled how Begum Sajida Sultan had given Sharmila a new name after she converted to Islam, calling her Ayesha in remembrance of the Prophet’s wife Bibi Ayesha, considered the most learned and pious lady in Islamic history.

Sharmila will host a dawat-e-walima — an important tradition dating back to Prophet Mohammad’s era in which the groom’s side invites relatives and friends to welcome the bride — at Pataudi palace, which was earlier scheduled for tomorrow but late tonight appeared to have been put off till Friday.

If a nikaah takes place, it is expected to be solemnised by the same qazi who presided over Sharmila and Tiger Pataudi’s wedding. Sharmila will also host a reception in Delhi on Thursday.

Like the civil marriage in the morning, the evening ceremony at Taj today was low key. Rishi and Neetu Kapoor and their son Ranbir were present for all the wedding events, marking a family reunion for the Kapoors. Babita and Neetu have been estranged for years, but Kareena and Randhir are believed to have got them to come together for the wedding.

The reception in Delhi is being hosted at Aurangzeb Road, at an address that A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was to move into from Rashtrapati Bhavan. Instead, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat had moved into the 5,000sqft bungalow and lived there till 2010, after which it has been used to host big-ticket events.

Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, held all the events to celebrate his son’s wedding here while Mohsina Kidwai hosted her granddaughter’s wedding at the same venue.

“We have done the flooring of the place with plywood and constructed a 24sqft by 24sqft stage for the event. Cream-coloured curtains will form the boundary of the garden, where the main event will take place and they will receive guests,” said Suresh, a labourer who has his home in Bihar.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia and President Pranab Mukherjee are expected to attend the reception. Anwar Khan is among a few invitees from Bhopal, where the consensus is that Kareena will be called Chhoti Begum or Bahu Begum.

Many in Bhopal echoed Shah Rukh Khan, who tweeted: “Happiest marriage bond to my friend Saif & Kareena. May Allah keep ur family healthy & happy. Just saw it is registered, sealed & delivered.”


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