GUWAHATI, June 13 � People of the State bid adieu to renowned music maestro and �Bihu Samrat� Khagen Mahanta with tens of thousands flocking to the streets of the city, besides paying respect to him at Rabindra Bhavan and at Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, where his mortal remains were consigned to flames this evening, thus bringing to an end one of the most illustrious lives of our times and creating a void in Assam�s cultural and musical arena.
Mahanta (72), who delighted music lovers over the years with his popular numbers, like Kalore paatote kauri pare, Amar man patharar, Parar pakhit gathi dilo, Sonere garhalo, Iman morom iman sapon, Jonti olale tarati olabo, Ma ami sadiyale jamaei, among others, was consigned to the flames at around 5.35 pm with full State honours in the Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakshetra complex.
Angarag Papon Mahanta, son of the artiste and himself a singing star, performed the ceremonial rituals, including the mukhagni, i.e., lighting of the funeral pyre. A 21-gun salute marked the State honour.
The ceremony was attended by a galaxy of people from all walks of life, including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Among others who were present included people from politics, bureaucracy, art and music and thousands of others like homemakers, students, youths and senior citizens, among whom were many die-hard fans of Mahanta.
Mahanta had passed away at his Nigaji Pam residence here yesterday afternoon. He left behind his wife Archana Mahanta, son Angarag Papon � both accomplished singers � and daughter Kingkini.
Earlier this morning, Angarag arrived from Mumbai.
People flocked the family residence since early morning to pay their last respects.
The body of the music maestro was taken out in a decorated vehicle accompanied by a huge procession from his Nigaji Pam residence. The procession was stopped at Seuj Sangha at Ambikagiri Nagar and then at the All India Radio Guwahati, before being taken to Rabindra Bhawan, where the government had made arrangements to enable people to pay their respects to the departed singer.
The cavalcade was led by motorcycle-borne traffic policemen. It had to be slowed down at many places to enable hundreds of people, who had lined up on the street, to offer flowers and pay their last respect to Mahanta.
The body was kept at Rabindra Bhawan for over three and half hours. Scouts guarded the body which was placed inside a glass casket.
Ministers Akon Bora, Pranati Phukan, Basanta Das, Rockybul Hussain, Atul Bora, Kumar Dipak Das and artist, singers and actors, including Prastuti Parashar, Chetana Das and Biju Phukan laid wreaths on the body and prayed for the soul of the departed.
�His death is a huge loss for Assam, especially the younger generation. The government should take steps to preserve his work so that his legend can continue to inspire the coming generations in the State,� Biju Phukan told reporters.
Parashar said, �We will have to keep alive his spirit and preserve his creations for the generations to come.�
Later in the afternoon, the body was taken in a cavalcade to Kalakshetra via GS Road, with people thronging the road all the way.
The funeral ground is near the eastern boundary of the Kalakshetra, adjacent to the international auditorium. A memorial would be set up at the funeral site later.
People from all walks of life gathered at the Kalakshetra and bid a tearful adieu to the music maestro.
Apart from the Chief Minister, those who attended the funeral included many of his ministerial colleagues, Guwahati MP Bijoya Chakravarty, Guwahati Mayor Abir Patra, besides distinguished personalities from diverse fields, especially from the cultural and literary fronts, including singer Zubin Garg and actress Barsha Rani Bishaya.