12:49 PM IST - Wednesday July 30, 2014

Hazarika’s last rites Wednesday, a million pay last respects

Guwahati, Nov 8 (IANS) More than a million people have paid their last respects to one of the doyens of Indian music, Bhupen Hazarika, whose body has been kept at a public playground here. With fans pouring in, the government has postponed his funeral to Wednesday.

“Considering the fact that people in their thousands are still lining up to pay their last respects, we in consultation with family members decided to postpone his funeral. Instead of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, the funeral procession would begin at 6 a.m. Wednesday and the last rites would be performed at 7 a.m.,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

Hazarika’s only son, 60-year-old Tej Bhupen Hazarika, is arriving here Tuesday afternoon from New York to perform the last rites. Bhupen Hazarika’s estranged wife Priyamvada Patel, now settled in Canada, is not coming on health grounds.

There has been an unending stream of people to enter the Judges Field to have a last glimpse of this legendary musician — the body placed inside an air-conditioned glass coffin.

“Thousands of people are standing in queues extending to about five to six kilometres,” said Assam Police Inspector General G.P. Singh.

The coffin was placed at the Judges Field late Monday and throughout the night thousands of Hazarika’s fans paid their tributes.

There was a stampede like situation at the Judges Field Tuesday morning as close to 2,000 people jumped the barricade and entered the playground through a gate meant for VIPs.

On Monday, a sea of humanity paid rich tributes to the 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 Guwahati to his ancestral home in the city.

The scene was no different Tuesday with fans singing his popular songs and slogans like “Bhupen Hazarika amara raho” renting the air as people in thousands patiently queued up 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.

Heartrending emotional scenes were witnessed with fans crying 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.

Hazarika began singing when he was just 10 years 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 Communications 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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