Suharto’s son marries aristocrat in elaborate ceremony
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ A multimillionaire son of President Suharto married a descendant of Javanese royalty today, gently crushing an egg underfoot in a traditional way of saying ``I do.″
Hutomo ``Tommy″ Mandala Putra, 35, and Ardhia ``Tata″ Pramesti Rigita Cahyani, 22, wore golden sarongs for their three-hour wedding ceremony before 3,500 guests at a Jakarta cultural theme park.
``Tata and Tommy, be grateful for this blessing from God,″ a proud Suharto told the couple, who had earlier knelt before the 75-year-old leader in a show of respect.
``Be always happy together and be useful to our nation and our religion,″ the official Antara news service quoted Suharto as saying after the service that mixed Muslim belief and Javanese ritual.
Suharto had initially invited 1,000 guests, but the list grew as Jakarta high society clamored to be at the wedding of the year.
Security was tight. Cabinet ministers, generals, top bureaucrats, wealthy businessmen, friends and relatives walked through three metal detectors before taking their seats.
Tommy, a businessman with a personal fortune estimated at $600 million, is the youngest son and last of Suharto’s six children to wed.
Tata, whose lineage extends back to the royal family of Java’s ancient capital of Solo, studied landscaping in neighboring Australia before becoming engaged to Tommy one month ago.
For the wedding, she was bedecked in jewelry. A row of long golden pins kept an intricate hair arrangement in place and formed a crown-like frame for her traditionally made-up face.
Tommy’s late mother, First Lady Siti Hartinah Suharto, was related to Solo royalty as well, making him a distant relative of his wife.
Tommy gave his bride 3.5 ounces of gold and traditional Muslim prayer clothing as wedding gifts.
The ceremony included Islamic readings, classical Indonesian gamelan music and vows before a Muslim cleric. Tommy, who wore a white cap symbolizing his link to Solo royalty, later took off his slipper and crushed the egg with his bare foot in a traditional Javanese ritual.
Before his engagement was announced, the dapper Tommy, who wears stylish suits and a clipped mustache, was regarded as Indonesia’s most eligible bachelor. Gossip columns regularly reported on his liaisons with actresses, pop stars and beauty queens.
More recently, he has been at the center of an international trade dispute.
Last February, the government announced generous tax breaks for a car company owned in part by Tommy. The exemptions were intended to create an Indonesian auto industry, but first he will be allowed to use them to import South Korean-made cars duty-free.
The United States, Japan and the European Union have complained to the World Trade Organization that the move violates Indonesia’s free-trade commitments.