Bal Thackeray funeral: Shivaji Park sees Raj, Uddhav, moment

Moment

Minutes before the funeral pyre was lit, and as immediate family members took turns to place logs on the body of Bal Thackeray, there was a moment son Uddhav looked at estranged cousin Raj and asked if he had completed his part of the ritual.

An emotional Raj, who had just placed a log by the feet of the senior Thackeray, nodded and moved aside to regain composure.

Post-Bal Thackeray death, for the people gathered at Shivaji Park since 4 am, it was a moment they could take home.

Around sunset, as the flames rose high, the brothers were together, flanked by their sons, Thackeray's constant help Thapa, attendants from Lilavati Hospital, family's spiritual advisor Bhaiyuji Maharaj and close relatives, with an emotionally charged crowd raising mobile phones to capture the last journey of their inspiring leader.

A "multi-level security" event, the funeral that received state honours saw the traditional 21-gun salute, with political leaders such as L K Advani, Nitin Gdakari, Sushma Swaraj, Sharad Pawar, Chhagan Bhujpal and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in attendance. Others included actor Amitabh Bachchan and industrilist Anil Ambani.

Through the day, the ground saw hectic preparations with Sainiks diligently decorating the pyre since 8.30 am. The logs were placed, makeshift cremation space painted and flowers arranged.

Across access routes and Dadar railway station, police took down details of groups to estimate the crowd. The arrangements included four JB-assisted cameras capturing every important development in the pyre pit, to be relayed across LED screens on both ends of the ground. While the whole day had been a long and patient wait, with followers refusing to budge, women were inconsolable when the pyre was finally lit. While some chose to weep silently, others broke down.

Physically challenged Arjun Patil of Jalgaon (25) arrived at 10 pm on Saturday. He said he "owed it to Balasaheb to come see him one last time".

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