As Nitish Kumar took oath as Chief Minister of Bihar in a grand swearing-in ceremony on Friday, there was one major leader absentee among a crowd of political heavyweights attending the event.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s absence at the ceremony might have raised eyebrows, but his grand birthday celebrations seem more like an extravaganza in itself to showcase the power of the Janata Parivar veteran .

As artists like AR Rahman and Harshdeep Kaur are set to take the stage in Mulayam’s western UP hometown , celebrities such as Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachhan are expected to be present.

The three-day bash got off to a colourful start on Saturday at Saifai, around 200km from state capital Lucknow:

Source: PTI

Supporters shower flowers on SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as he arrives at a programme to celebrate his 77th birthday in Safai on Saturday | Source: PTI

Village women wait to welcome SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on his 77th birthday in Safai on Saturday | Source: PTI

However, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Yadav was not present during the event.

If you thought that Mulayam’s 75th birthday celebrations last year, with a 75 feet cake and a Rs 70 lakh buggy, were over the top, the extravagant event on Saturday night might just leave you stunned.

As Twitter was abuzz with support and criticism, Azam Khan is once again at the helm of affairs, although 50 drought hit districts in Uttar Pradesh seem to bear the brunt of the madness .

As invites have been sent to the likes of Anil Ambani and Adi Godrej, Janata Parivar heavyweights like Sharad Yadav will be among the political commotion at the event.

While the celebrations seem to be getting more eye-catching and expensive every year, the scale on which the event is planned and funded could have benefited the administration of the state to a large extent.