Shiv Sena leaders, supporters bid tearful farewell to iconic leader Bal Thackeray

Mumbai, Nov.18 (ANI): Leaders and supporters of the right-wing Shiv Sena, besides prominent people and commoners from other walks of life, bid a tearful and sad farewell to Maharashtra's iconic leader Balasaheb Thackeray at Mumbai's Shivaji Park late on Sunday evening.

Amid the chanting of Vedic hymns and ceremonial state honours, including a reversal of arms and a gun salute, Balasaheb Thackeray's eldest son Uddhav Thackeray lit the flower-decked funeral pyre on which the late leader's body had been placed, hours after passing through the streets of his beloved Mumbai.

During the funeral procession, tens of thousands of Shiv Sainiks, and people from all walks of life threw flowers and lamented his untimely loss at the age of 86 from the ravages of old age, coupled with multiple organ failure and cardiac arrest.

Earlier this afternoon,eminent political leaders, Bollywood stars and other distinguished personalities gathered at Shivaji Park to pay their last respects to the Shiv Sena patriarch amid shouts of "Balasaheb Thackeray Amar Rahe, Amar Rahe".

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Congress leader and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajeev Shukla, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, senior leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Menaka Gandhi were all at the funeral venue to pay homage to the deceased leader.

National Congress Party (NCP) president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, his daughter Supriya Sule and Union Minister for Heavy Industries Praful Patel were also present.

Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Nana Patekar and Ritiesh Deshmukh, film director and actor Mahesh Manjrekar and industrialist Anil Ambani were also among the VIPs present in Shivaji Park when the funeral cortege had arrived. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was also present.

Earlier, the body of 86-year-old Balasaheb Thackeray was taken out of his residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra for the last time this morning in a hearse adorned with flowers in the presence of weeping and anguished Shiv Sena supporters, besides other residents of Mumbai and Maharashtra who had come to see Thackeray as their iconic hero and leader.

Shivaji Park was chosen as the place for Thackeray's last rites, as it was from here that the Shiv Sena was formally launched in 1966, and was often used as the venue to vitriolically highlight Thackeray's views on what was going wrong with the country and its leaders.

Several Shiv Sena leaders like Manohar Joshi, Diwakar Raote, Sanjay Raut, Neelam Gorhe, Vinayak Raut, Anil Desai and Subhash Desai, accompanied the bereaved members of theThackeray family during the last journey of their patriarch and leader. (ANI)