By Quaid NajmiMumbai, Feb 6 : The Final Journey for Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar – who passed into immortality this morning – started from her Prabhukunj home on Pedder Road in south Mumbai to Shivaji Park, where she will be accorded a rare public funeral with full state honours on Sunday evening.
Her mortal remains were brought home around noon and kept for ‘darshan’ for a couple of hours with hordes of Bollywood personalities, top politicians across party lines, and other celebs trooping for a last glimpse and to offer solace to her siblings and other family members.
Later, a flower-bedecked army truck arrived to the building compound, her body draped in the Indian Tricolour was brought down and kept there as the Mumbai Police band played soulful tunes.
A police contingent fired a 21-gun salute and the body was placed atop the truck which started on a slow 10-km drive to Shivaji Park where all preparations are made for the public funeral.
The Maharashtra Government has declared a 3-day State Mourning and Monday (Feb 7) as a public holiday as a mark of respect to the legend.
Thousands of teary-eyed people lined up the 10-km long route from Pedder Road to Shivaji Park, with several VVIPs like Minister Aditya Thackeray and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, Municipal Commissioner I.S.Chahal and others joined the procession on foot.
As the procession continued, many hundreds joined en route, many raising cries of “Lata Didi, Amar Rahe”, “Lata Didi Zindabad”, carrying her photos or playing her immortal numbers, and thousands more stood in the balconies of their homes in small or tall buildings, raising their hands in an adieu.
Amid tight security in and around at Shivaji Park, a specially-erected funeral pyre was ready for the last rites, with a host of top leaders and celebs in attendance.
They include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, other ministers, Bollywood personalities, officials, and grieving commoners who have lived on a diet of Lata’s songs for seven decades.
Lata Didi, as she was revered in all circles, had been battling with several ailments complicated by a Covid-19 infection and was admitted to Breach Candy Hospital on Jan 9.
After a long and valiant battle, India’s Melody Queen quietly fell silent at 8.12 a.m.on Sunday, stunning the nation and the world of music.
The nation grieved her demise starting with President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M.Venkaiah Naidu, PM Modi, Koshyari, Thackeray, top central and state leaders from all over India, dignitaries and others.
Scores of Bollywood personalities like Amitabh Bachan, Saira Bano, the Kapoors, singers Sudesh Wadkar, Anuradha Paudwal, Sonu Nigam, Udit Narayan, music directors, film producers-directors and others either visited the Mangeshkar residence or paid tributes to her memory, while others are likely to attend the funeral at Shivaji Park.
The entire Maharashtra cabinet, top leaders of Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress, MPs, MLAs, municipal corporators and others started gathering at the venue for the last rites as several thousands of people also turned up to witness Lata’s Final departure.
This is the first such event in a decade after the late Shiv Sena patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray passed away on Nov 17, 2012, as he was accorded a public funeral the next day (Nov 18, 2012), at Shivaji Park.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])
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