Thursday, July 14, 2011

Awarding Knight of Order of Arts and Letters' to Aishwarya put off

New Delhi, Jul 13 : A ceremony to award French Government’s ‘Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters’ (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) to Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai was today postponed after Aishwarya and the entire Bachchan family requested the French Government to put off the ceremony in deference to the victims of this evening’s Mumbai Bomb Blasts .

The award ceremony, which was due to be held in New Delhi this evening, with the Bachchans and Rai expected to be present to support Aishwarya, was postponed following the request by the Bachchans.

An announcement in this regard was made , just before the start of the event, by French Embassy attaché Daniel Rignault.

"In deference of the victims of the terrible tragedy, it has been decided to postpone the ceremony to some future date. This is not the time for any celebrations but to express condolence to the victims of the tragedy that has occurred in Mumbai," Rignault said.

Addresing the gathering, Aishwarya, who was making her first public appearance since her pregnancy was made public, said the events of Mumbai had saddened her and her family which is why they had requested for the postponement of the event.

"We are shocked and saddened by the Mumbai blasts. The news has left us very disturbed. We didn't think it prudent to receive the honour at this time. We (Aishwarya and Abhishek) and our family felt it was not correct to celebrate my honour at the time of such a monumental tragedy. So, we requested the French Government to postpone it to some other moment, Aishwarya, who was accompanied by husband Abhishek, said.

Expressing her family’s commiseration with those affected by the blasts, she said, "our prayers, our concerns, our spirits are with families of people affected by the tragedy. At the moment, it is important to put across a message to the perpetrators of this act that we shall stand united, that we will stand together to fight terrorism. We pray deeply and with all sincerity for families affected by the tragedy." The award, meant to honour Aishwarya’s contribution to the world of cinema, was to be conferred in 2008, but she could not receive it then due to her father's illness. 

Also accompanying Aishwarya was Abhishek's sister Shweta Nanda and her family, Aishwarya's brother and sister-in-law.

Expressing the French Government’s condolences to the victims, Rignault said, "we express our deepest condolences to the victims of the tragedy. Nothing can justify the recourse to terror." Speaking on the occasion, Union minister Farooq Abdullah condemned the blasts and thanked the French Government for its gesture of postponing the event in deference to victims of Mumbai blasts.

Thanking the French government for its gesture of support, Mr Abdullah said, "the whole World stands together to fight these elements. I warn that they will never succeed in beating India."

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