Bhupen Hazarika's last journey begins
It was a tearful last journey of the 85-year-old bard whose baritone voice enthralled and mesmerised millions of fans.
Bhupen Hazarika's 40-year-old companion and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi and the legend's 60-year-old son Tej Bhupen Hazarika accompanied the floral-bedecked hearse to the funeral site.
Thousands of people waited impatiently all along the 15-km route from the Judges Field to the Gauhati University campus with many chanting slogans like "Bhupen Hazarika amar raho" while others showered petals and flowers.
More than 500,000 people gathered at the funeral site with Governor J.B. Patnaik and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi present. Also present was the leader of the opposition in parliament and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj, besides a galaxy of celebrities and eminent citizens.
A 21 gun salute by the Assam Police would be given to the singer, lyricist, composer and filmmaker.
Son Tej would perform the last rites.
Hazarika died Saturday at a Mumbai hospital following a prolonged illness.
Estranged wife Priyamvada Patel, 82, who stays in Toronto, Canada, said she was saddened by Hazarika's death.
"I am saddened to hear about the death of my son's father. I am down with some knee ailment and so could not come," Priyamvada said over the phone.
"I spoke to him on the phone some 10 years ago when he was unwell," she said.
The last rites were to be performed Tuesday, but the government had to postpone the ceremony to Wednesday following a massive demand from the public who came out in their thousands to pay their last respects to the late singer whose coffin was placed at the Judges Field since Sunday night.
Hazarika began singing when he was just 10 years old and churned out hit after hit 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.
The Dadasaheb Phalke award winner 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 that 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, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner's passion for music was unrelenting.
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