India's first televised 'swayamvar' concluded in Mumbai late on Sunday (August 2) with item girl Rakhi Sawant choosing Toronto-based Elesh Parujanwala as her life partner in a unique reality TV show.
In NDTV Imagine's "Rakhi Ka Swayamvar", Rakhi made the final choice from the three finalists - from the original list of 16 contestants in 26 episodes. The other two finalists were young aspirant Manas Katyal and businessman Chhitiz Jain, both from New Delhi.
"I have been watching Elesh from day one. On and off the camera, he has been the same and has really taken care of me. He is everything I was looking for and I am glad to have found him on the Swayamvar. The swayamvar means finding a jeevan saathi (life partner) and I have found Elesh.
"Today is our engagement. I am ready to get married now, but we need to understand each other better off camera. We will soon get married in front of all of you in keeping with all our traditions," Rakhi said after announcing her choice to a waiting audience across the country.
Decked up in red and gold lehenga-choli by Neeta Lulla and kundan jewellery, Rakhi looked a perfect bride.
Elesh, Manas and Chhitiz too were dressed for the occasion - in traditional sherwanis and turbans.
In the dramatic finale, she garlanded Elesh - as the audience clapped on.
The colourful event, held at the Hotel Leela Kampinski, saw a host of celebrities like choreographer Saroj Khan, actors Ravi Kishen and Ram Kapoor, who posed as brothers to the bride, apart from others like Smita Bansal and Sudha Shivpuri in the audience
But Rakhi Sawant won't be inviting mom to her wedding
Sounding excited after her engagement to NRI businessman Elesh Parunjwala, item girl Rakhi Sawant says she wants all her friends, including ex-boyfriend Abhishek Awasthi, to attend her wedding but will not invite her mother.
"I completely forgive Abhishek Awasthi. I was very surprised to know that he showed up on Sunday for my scheduled wedding. Surprised and touched. If I knew, I'd have welcomed him. Yesterday, he was my boyfriend. Today, he's my friend," Rakhi told IANS.
But she hasn't forgiven her mother.
"Please, all that nautanki on television for five minutes can't take away the pain I've gone through. As far as I'm concerned that chapter of my life is closed," she said.
Eliminated contestants from the "Rakhi Ka Swayamvar" reality show were among those who had showed up to wish the couple on Sunday (August 2). But although a wedding was expected, Rakhi and Elesh only got engaged.
"I was all set to marry Elesh on Sunday. But it was Elesh who said he wanted more time to get to know me. I'm very confident of him. But if he needs more time to get to know me, how can I force myself on him? I'm ready to wait as long as he wants," said Rakhi.
But although she is willing to wait for Elesh to make up his mind about the wedding, she doesn't want to shift base to Canada, where he runs a business.
"I'm completely sure Elesh is the man for me. But I do have a career in Mumbai. So he'll have to plan our future accordingly."
They are planning to go to Toronto together for the wedding of Elesh's sister.
Was Rakhi Sawant married before?
Though she came to the press conference two hours late, dressed in red and flashing her engagement ring, Rakhi Sawant took questions from the media in Mumbai on August 3, with fiance Elesh Parujanwala by her side, whom she had chosen the night before through her reality show “Rakhi Ka Swayamvar”.
However, for a brief moment she was left stumped when a TV journalist asked about her first marriage.
“No comments,” said Rakhi, taking a deep breath. However, she did not deny it, as one would expect.
This has given rise to fresh speculation as to whether the story about her being already married, which was broken two years ago by a TV news channel, is actually true.
In October 2007, it was claimed by a channel that Rakhi had been briefly married to a guy named Ashraf in 2004. Apparently, Ashraf had even financed the “Pardesia” music video that shot her to fame.
But the marriage had lasted for two-three months. Ashraf was accused of fraud and went to jail. Meanwhile Rakhi also found out that he was married and had a kid. It was said Ashraf’s family even harassed her for money. She had simply been taken for a ride!
What is good for Rakhi though is that her fiancé Elesh is a broad-minded guy who feels past is done and gone. Even he had six girlfriends in the past, he has said.
"We are open to each other; our past has come and gone. Everyone goes through a bad phase and we both had a bad phase in our personal lives," the couple said to the media.
Rakhi also made it clear that she is not leaving India for Elesh.
"More power to her. I let her do what she likes. I have also shifted my base to Mumbai," said Elesh.
It is no secret that Rakhi has really struggled to get to her present position so it's only fair that she enjoys the fruits of her labour. We wish her all the happiness as she starts a new phase in her life