The mortal remains of Bal Thackeray were consigned to flames on Sunday evening at Shivaji Park in the presence of millions of mourners.
Thackeray’s youngest son Uddhav lit the funeral pyre a little after 6pm, to loud roars of Balasaheb amar rahe (long live Balasaheb).
Raj Thackeray, Uddhav’s estranged cousin and MNS chief, stood next to him with folded hands near the pyre as they accepted condolences from political leaders, industry bigwigs, film personalities, relatives, friends, and well-wishers.
Earlier in the day, Mumbai came to a standstill as the 86-year-old Shiv Sena chief’s cortege left Matoshree, Bandra (East), at 9am. From malls and shops to roadside tea stalls, everything remained shut throughout the day. Taxis and autos too were off the roads.
Thackeray, who was critically ill for the past few days, passed away on Saturday afternoon following a cardiac arrest. Draped in the national flag (the Maharashtra government accorded full state honours on him), Thackeray was given a 21-gun salute and the police sounded the Last Post, a rare honour for someone who had never held any official position.
Even in death, the Sena chief proved that he was still the crowd-puller with tens of thousands of people marching with him in his last journey from Matoshree to Shivaji Park. The funeral procession took almost seven hours to travel the 10-km stretch.
The pyre was erected on a platform at the very place from where Thackeray delivered his first speech after launching the Shiv Sena on June 19, 1966. As a mark of respect, the state government allowed the funeral at Shivaji Park, a first in independent India. In 1920, Bal Gangadhar Tilak was cremated at Girgaum chowpatty.
BJP’s LK Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, CM Prithviraj Chavan, NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal, and Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam were among the politicians present at the funeral.
Amitabh Bachchan, with whom Thackeray shared a special bond, actor Nana Patekar, filmmaker Madhur Bhan-darkar, industrialists Anil Ambani and Venugopal Dhoot and Zee chief Subhash Chandra reached Shivaji Park hours ahead of the funeral.
(With inputs from agencies)