India’s voice Lata Mangeshkar cremated with State honours

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tribute to late singer Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai on Sunday.(UNI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tribute to late singer Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai on Sunday.(UNI)

MUMBAI, Feb 6:

Bharat’s ‘Ratna’ Lata Mangeshkar was cremated with full State honours here today, her life and death testimony that end of an era is not always a cliché and sometimes carries a ring of truth that imprints itself into lasting memory. She was 92.
Mangeshkar, whose voice stirred millions of hearts everyday and who will forever be counted as one of India’s greats with an estimated 25,000 songs in an almost eight-decade career, died in Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital this morning due to multiple organ failure.
Flames licked the rapidly darkening sky as her brother Hridyanath Mangeshkar lit the funeral pyre at Shivaji Park and a nation held its collective breath as it were, many searching through their mental — and digital — songbooks to identify their favourite Mangeshkar number.
The haunting strains of “Rahein na rahein hum, mehka karenge”, “Ae mere watan ke logon” and “Nam gum jaayega” played in the backdrop as politicians, film stars and the many thousands whose lives she had touched with her music paid their last respects to her.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also in Shivaji Park to pay tribute to the singer whose name was written into legend long before she took her last breath. Also there were Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, MNS supremo Raj Thackeray and actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan.
Earlier in the afternoon, as a flower-bedecked cortege went from her Peddar Road home to Shivaji Park, surging crowds of mourners walked along, many thousands lined the 10-kilometre route and millions tuned into their screens — to say goodbye to the woman who had been an integral part of their lives and to fuse into memory a moment in contemporary history.
Mangeshkar, one of India’s most well known and well loved personalities who voiced songs for actors down generations, died at 8.12 am, almost a month after she admitted to hospital with mild Covid symptoms, her doctor said. She was also diagnosed with pneumonia.
The Government announced a two-day “state mourning” for the playback singer, who had a prodigious career in not just Hindi and Marathi but in more than 30 other Indian languages, and across classical and other genres.
The national flag will fly at half mast from February 6 to February 7 throughout India. There will also be no official entertainment in this period.
The Indore-born Mangeshkar is survived by her siblings Meena, Asha, Usha and Hridaynath. Her coffin was draped in the tricolour and placed on the hearse draped in white flowers with a giant photograph of the singer known as “Nightingale of India”, “melody queen” or simply “Lata didi”.
” … I’m just shattered that Didi, who has shaped my life and that of crores of others, is not anymore,” said 60-year-old Savita Shah, one of the many who had gathered outside her home to pay their respects to the woman whose voice they woke up to, listened to as they went about their day and as they turned in for the night.
As millions mourned her and said thank you for your music, the tributes came pouring in with President Ram Nath Kovind and Modi leading a heartbroken nation in remembering her.
But hers was an appeal that transcended boundaries. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapakse and Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari were among those who condoled the death of the singing maestro.
“Lata-ji’s demise is heart-breaking for me, as it is for millions the world over. In her vast range of songs, rendering the essence and beauty of India, generations found expression of their inner-most emotions. A Bharat Ratna, Lata-ji’s accomplishments will remain incomparable,” Kovind said.
The Prime Minister said he is “anguished beyond words”.
“The kind and caring Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled. The coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people,” he said in a tweet.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said she remained the “most beloved voice of India for many decades” and added that her immortal golden voice will continue to echo in the hearts of her fans.
Mangeshkar received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award and multiple National Film Awards.
The film world she had worked with for decades expressed its condolences too.
Gulzar, her long-time collaborator, said Mangeshkar was a miracle who can’t be bound in mere words.
“Lata ji is a ‘karishma’ (miracle) in herself and this ‘karishma’ doesn’t happen always and ‘aaj ye karishma mukammal (complete) ho gaya’, she is gone,” he said.
“She has left us… The voice of a million centuries has left us… her voice resounds now in the Heavens! Prayers for calm and peace…,” Bachchan said in his personal blog.
Actor Waheeda Rehman, who danced to Mangeshkar’s playback most memorably in “Guide” in “Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai”, and “Piya tose naina laage re”, said there was magic in her voice.
“She had such a beautiful voice and her songs will be remembered for years to come… Behind this magic was a lot of hard work and determination,” Rehman said.
Actor Shabana Azmi said, “Lataji ..Our national treasure no more ..Her voice lit up our lives , gave us solace when we were sad , gave strength when we were low..Thank you Lataji and RIP.”
Mangeshkar’s first recorded song was in 1942 in the Marathi film “Kiti Hasaal” when she was just 13. In October last year, 79 years later, Vishal Bhardwaj released “Theek Nahi Lagta”, a song with her favourite lyricist Gulzar.
Her list of unforgettable songs is long. But some of them include “Lag Jaa Gale”, “Mohe Panghat Pe”, “Chalte Chalte”, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”, “Ajeeb Daastaan Hai”, “Hothon mein aisi baat”, “Pyar kiya to darna kya” and “Neela asman so gaya..
Such was the pull of her voice that Bade Ghulam Ali sahab, a musician that Mangeshkar greatly admired, is believed to have said, “Kambakhq kabhi besuree hee nahee hoti (She can never be out of tune)” .
Many, including some the biggest musicians and actors,equated her voice with that of ‘goddess Saraswati’. And fate willed it that she died a day after Saraswati Puja.
Mangeshkar acknowledged the love but remained humble till the end.
“Some people call me ‘Saraswati’ or say that I have her blessings…
It is their blessing that people like whatever I sing. Otherwise who am I? I am nothing. There have been better singers than me and some of them are not even with us,” she said. (PTI)