Thousands escort Hazarika’s body to ancestral Guwahati houseNovember 7th, 2011 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS
Guwahati, Nov 7 (IANS) A sea of humanity paid rich tributes Monday to music legend Bhupen Hazarika as the hearse carrying his coffin took close to seven hours to traverse a distance of 30 km from the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Assam’s main city of Guwahati to his ancestral home in the city.
His popular songs and slogans like “Bhupen Hazarika, amara raho” rent the air all along the route from the airport to his Nizarapara residence with people in thousands impatiently waiting to have a last glimpse of one of India’s last known balladeers.
The 85-year-old singer, composer, filmmaker, and music director, passed away Saturday at a Mumbai hospital after prolonged illness.
People sobbed and cried inconsolably as the coffin was brought out of the aircraft before a ceremonial guard of honour was presented, with Governor J.B. Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi paying floral tributes.
“I am numbed and speechless,” Gogoi told IANS in a choked voice even as tears welled in his eyes.
Hazarika’s companion of more than four decades, filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, and a few relatives and well-wishers accompanied the coffin.
“I have lost my father, mentor, and husband. He may have died, but his spirit would remain forever,” Lajmi said.
The hearse carrying the coffin, decorated with flowers, was stopped intermittently with fans getting delirious to have a glimpse of one of India’s oldest performing singers. Authorities planned just five stops from the airport to the maestro’s home, but all plans went haywire.
“We could do nothing and just watched the people’s emotions. The 30 km journey took us seven hours,” said Inspector General of Police G.P. Singh.
The coffin is expected to reach the historic Judges Field, a public playground in the city, around midnight for fans to pay their last respects.
Heartrending emotional scenes were witnessed with fans crying by beating their chests, while others simply continued singing songs.
“The man with the golden voice may have died, but his voice would ignite the passions of generations to come,” said Samar Hazarika, the youngest of the nine siblings of the Dadasaheb Phalke award winner.
The last journey takes place Tuesday with the funeral rituals scheduled at 1 p.m. at the Gauhati University playground.
“We are expecting around 1 million people during the funeral,” said a district official overseeing the preparations.
Hazarika began singing when he was just 10 year old and churned out hits after hits numbering more than 1,500 songs until his health failed about two years ago. At 13, he sang about building a new Assam and a new India - the lyrics were his own, very powerful and contemporary.
A singer, lyricist, actor, and a filmmaker, Hazarika was born in 1926 in one of Assam’s remotest corners - Sadiya in the eastern district of Tinsukia. He grew up in the northern town of Tezpur and later went to Banaras Hindu University and completed his graduation and post-graduation in Political Science.
He studied with an aim to pursue a career as a lawyer in Assam, but destiny made him a mass-based singer.
In 1948, Hazarika went to the US on a scholarship to study Mass Communication at Columbia University, New York.
It was there he got soaked in American folk music and later on that influenced him to bring in the folk elements in his songs - although he mostly sang the folk tunes of Assam.
Always adorned with the trademark Nepali cap, Hazarika’s passion for music was unrelenting.
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Tags: amara, ancestral home, assam, ceremonial guard, chief minister, coffin, emotional scenes, floral tributes, guard of honour, hearse, lajmi, last respects, more than four decades, music director, music legend, public playground, rich tributes, seven hours, tarun, well wishers