Bhupen Hazarika: A funeral larger than Diana’s

Charles Cowling




Did you know that earlier today, in the Indian state of Assam, a funeral was held that was expected to be the one of the largest the world has seen in recent years?

Yesterday the Times of Assam reported that:

Unofficial sources have claimed that the number has already crossed the number of attendees who paid the last respect to Late Princess Diana, Pope John Paul II, US president John F Kennedy, etc.

The subject of this grief and devotion is Bhupen Hazarika, the bard of Brahmaputra, who died earlier this week at the age of 86. The service had already been delayed by a day because of the large numbers attending and the Times of India reports that today:

Heartrending scenes were witnessed at the Gauhati University campus, close to the banks of the great Asian river Brahmaputra. As the funeral pyre was lit at 10.26 a.m., chants of ‘Bhupen Hazarika amar raho’ rent the air and people broke down, with some crying loudly and others barely managing to hold back their tears.

An overwhelmed Tej pleaded with the surging crowd to control themselves and maintain calm even as Hazarika’s companion of 40 years, Kalpana Lajmi, cried inconsolably, unable to check her emotions.

“I am speechless with the overwhelming response and love for my father,” an emotional Tej told IANS after performing the last rites of the 85-year-old legend.

An estimated 100,000 people were present at the funeral site, some atop trees, and others trying witness the last rites from every possible vantage point available in the area.

A 21-gun salute was offered by the Assam Police with doctors and forensic experts taking the foot impressions of the man for posterity.

Some vidoe footage of the ceremony can be found here:


I was struck by the way in which the family were close to Dr Hazarika’s body thoughout. In this brief video, the intimacy is very touching:


For the pyre enthusiasts amongst you the Assam tribune reports that:

The GU authorities too have arranged for about 60 to 70 kgs of sandal wood to prepare the pyre of the great artiste in keeping with his stature. The wood has been collected from the University Botanical Garden, said GU Vice Chancellor Prof Okhil Kumar Medhi.

But the best way to pay our tribute to him is through his music. It’s not the best recording but well worth a listen – and it does give you a sense of why his passing is so much mourned:

8 thoughts on “Bhupen Hazarika: A funeral larger than Diana’s

  1. Charles Cowling

    ‘Legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika’s funeral has created a world record with the highest number of people paying tributes to him over two days though Michael Jackson memorial service holds record as the most watched funeral on television.’

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Kangkana Phukan

    It feels so bad to see a legend like Dr. Bhupen Hazarika leaving us forever… He may not be physically present among us, but his soul would always reside in our hearts….

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Mrinmoy Buzarbaruah

    Bhupen Da has left a lot for posterity to cherish. His music will never fade and the legend will live on. We should pledge to keep his music in its purest form and never let it be remixed.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Mridul Chakravarty

    Dr.Bhupen Hazarika…a great singer,poet,music composer of Assamese,Bengali and Hindi song.No doubt his death is a lost not only for Assam but also for the music industry as wel as society of Assam and ofcourse India. His music wil always flows through the heart of everybody as like as Brahmaputra.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    Smita Ghuwalewala

    every assamese(people living in Assam) has grief for him in his/her heart. It does not matter if he is not in a position to express it

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Mrityunjoy Khound

    Bhupen Hazarika is as great as the Brahmaputra. He will remain alive till the Brahmaputra flows.

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling
    jaya choudhury

    Bhupen da was a symbol of greatness…his songs were an inspiartion to everyone..A generation called Bhupen Hazarika has come to an end but its aura will never fade.

    Charles Cowling
  8. Charles Cowling
    Bhaswati K Goswami

    The hills ,the land and his favourite Bor Luit , the Brahmaputra in tears as Assam mourns her beloved son..

    Charles Cowling

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