Several lakhs turned up to join a long procession — among the largest in recent times — to mark the final journey of actress Sridevi which started near her residence to a crematorium in Vile Parle on Wednesday afternoon.
A tall, open truck, fully decorated with white flowers — her favorite color — carried her body which was first draped in the national tricolor and then loaded in a glass casket, as cries of ï¿½Sridevi Amar Rahe’ rent the air among her fans.
Maharashtra government accorded full state honors for the funeral of Sridevi — who was conferred a Padma Shri in 2013, which included draping her body in the national tricolor, elaborate arrangements by the Mumbai Police and a gun salute before the cremation.
Inside the truck was Sridevi lying serenely with full make-up, a large south Indian style vermillion and wearing a ceremonial gold and maroon colored Kanjeevaram sari. A heavy, large necklace adorned her since she died an ï¿½suhaagan’ (still married), giving the appearance of a resplendent ï¿½devi’ (Goddess) in deep slumber.
The truck slowly negotiated the approximately six km passing through some of the poshest areas of Andheri and Vile Parle suburbs, with a massive portrait of Sridevi visible from a distance.
Several lakhs of people including students, office-goers, and others accompanied or waited on both side of the roads, looked on from buildings and bungalow terraces. Many climbed on signals and lamp posts for the last glimpse of their beloved heroine.
In terms of sheer numbers, Sridevi’s funeral is estimated to have attracted the highest number of mourners, ranking on par with the previous biggest funeral processions of the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi (July 1980: around a million mourners), and India’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna (July 2012: a little less than a million mourners).
Among the prominent personalities who attended the funeral in Vile Parle were Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Randhir Kapoor and others who came to bid a final goodbye to Sridevi.
Sridevi’s daughters Janhvi and Khushi Kapoor performed the final rituals before the body was consigned to the flames with husband Boney standing nearby.
Earlier, since dawn, thousands of teary-eyed fans and admirers of the late actress, many carrying flowers, had queued up outside the Celebration Sports Club at Lokhandwala Complex for a final ï¿½darshan’ of their idol.
After the flower-bedecked body was brought to the club premises a steady stream of celebrities came in their vehicles and was whisked inside to pay their last respects.
Among the early callers seen were Rekha, Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Arbaaz Khan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Akshaye Khanna, Tabu, Farah Khan, Nitin Mukesh, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vidya Balan, Sushmita Sen, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Leela Bhandsali, Jackie Shroff, Farhan Akhtar, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, John Abraham, Ajay Devgn and Kajol, Anupam Kher and Sulabha Arya, among others.
Most of the visitors on Wednesday were sporting dark sunglasses to ward off the harsh early-summer glare, carrying flowers or small bouquets, embraced and consoled the bereaved family members, entering from the main entrance and leaving quickly from the other side as fans tried to catch a glimpse.
Sridevi’s body was flown to Mumbai from Dubai where she passed away following an accidental drowning in a bathtub in her hotel room around 11 pm on February 24, and from the airport was taken to the Kapoor residence in Green Acres.
Meanwhile, Green Acres housing society on Wednesday canceled Holi celebrations as a mark of respect for Sridevi.
For the final journey, at the club and the crematorium, the Mumbai Police implemented elaborate security arrangements at various venues and arranged special traffic and crowd management measures. (IANS)