Dhoni ties knot with longtime friend Sakshi in Dehradun
Rapid-fire batting and a passion for fast bikes. That's long been the Mahi way. And on Sunday, the Indian cricket captain's love for speed was once again on display. Within a day of Dhoni's engagement to Sakshi Singh Rawat, the couple got married at Vishranti Resort, located in the usually sleepy Lower Kandoli village, around 25km from Dehradun. In keeping with a romance that was kept tightly under wraps for almost two years, the wedding too was a fiercely private affair, with only family and close friends in attendance.
There were barely 50 guests, though some 10 dishes had been prepared. Given Dhoni's son-of-the-soil, feet firmly grounded image, the cuisine was predictably all-Indian, with nary an exotic dish in sight.
Dhoni reportedly wore a midnight blue sherwani. Ashish, the man who got the mare that Dhoni rode to the wedding, was ecstatic at having the Indian skipper as a client. Said he, "Dhoni asked me the name of the mare. I told him it had two names, Rani and Bobby. He liked the second better. At the end of the ride, he gave me Rs 5,001."
According to sources, the jaimala ceremony took place at 9.30pm followed by the pheras at 11pm. Dhoni wore a sehra, said to be priced at Rs 10,000, made by Charandas of Dehradun's famous Paltan Bazar.
The resort, owned by former Ranji Trophy player Michael Dalvi, is in the thickets of the Mussorrie foothills. From Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Adhiraj Singh, to cricketers like Arun Lal and Bollywood royalty, it's hosted them all. But Sunday's ceremony could well make it a local tourist attraction.
Meanwhile, even as fans burst crackers and distributed sweets in Dhoni's home town Ranchi, the ceremony itself was a closely-guarded affair.
The resort, spread over 125 acres, was ringed with two-tier security. The inner ring comprised private security guards while 400 policemen from Uttarakhand cordoned off the resort. Mediapersons were stopped 2km away from the resort. Sakshi's cousin, IPS officer Abhilasha Bisht, was said to be helping supervise the security arrangements.
Actor John Abraham ^ a close friend of Dhoni's who will be hosting a party for the couple in Mumbai on Wednesday ^ was among the celebrities present. Around half an hour before the auspicious time, Dhoni on horseback and other guests on foot moved to the bride's place, located on the same resort's premises.
John's girlfriend and actress Bipasha Basu couldn't be there, but tweeted her best wishes. "Wishing Mahi and Sakshi a very happy life together forever. Sad that I can't be there," she wrote.
Bipasha also revealed that contrary to the popular notion that Dhoni decided to get married on the spur of the moment, the wedding was planned months in advance.
"The wedding on Sunday night was all planned. But no one was supposed to know about it. Whatever the truth, we must all be happy for the couple. It's party time!" she said.
Of the Indian cricketers, only Suresh Raina, R P Singh, and Harbhajan Singh were present. Raina, who's known for his fancy footwork on the cricket pitch, was also reported to have displayed it with much gusto during the baraat procession.
BCCI bigwigs were also invited, but most couldn't make it as they were busy inaugurating indoor cricket facilities in Ranchi. The notable exception who did turn up was N Srinivasan, vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements which owns Chennai Super Kings, the Indian Premier League team captained by Dhoni
The locals got to know about the high-profile wedding on Saturday morning itself when innumerable cars kept passing the area and the frequency increased on Sunday morning till the marriage actually began. Also, a lot of the local people took their cars and two-wheelers to get a view of their favourite captain's wedding. But they faced the same fate as the media -- no entry. Still, it was an exciting day for them in the woods.
The 29-year-old cricketer from Ranchi has been one of the hottest bachelor boys of India. His clean and straightforward image has fetched him dozens of endorsements making him among the highest-earning cricketers in the world.
Incidentally, while Dhoni now lives in Jharkand, his family hails from a village near Binsar in Uttarakhand.
Both the skipper and his bride are pahadis. Like the rest of his brethren, Dhoni is a deeply religious and spiritual person. The locals say that his long hair, and the subsequent cut, was on account of a mannat he made to a local deity for a place in the Indian team first, and gesture of gratitude later.
Sakshi's father and Dhoni's father reportedly worked together in Ranchi. Her grandfather, a retired divisional forest officer, lives in Dehradun. The couple know each other from their days in DAV School, Ranchi
Sakshi graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management in Aurangabad two months ago. She is currently working with Taj Bengal, Kolkata. Both Dhoni and Rawat are originally from Uttarakhand.
Dhoni has been linked with a string of actresses in the past. But tongues started wagging about his involvement with the low-profile Sakshi, now 21, when they were first seen together in Aurangabad. Sakshi was also seen with Dhoni on November 19 when they went for a rickshaw ride on her 21st birthday. Such privacy is a luxury that she's unlikely to get, now that she's married to 'Captain Cool'.