Bal Thackeray Funeral: Thousands Bid Farewell To Hindu Extremist

Huge crowds gathered in Mumbai, India on Sunday to witness the funeral procession of Bal Thackeray, the former chief of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party.

Thackeray’s funeral has caused India’s financial capital to come to a virtual halt with businesses closing and taxis staying off the streets, reports Al Jazeera.

Thackeray, 86, was known for his fiery anti-Muslim rhetoric and often referred to his followers at “Hindu warriors.” He passed away on Saturday from cardiac arrest that followed a prolonged illness.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets, watching along the route to catch a final glimpse of Thackeray’s body. The body was accompanied by Bal’s family and party members and was adorned with his trademark sunglasses and covered in the national flag.

Upon learning of his death, Bal Thackeray loyalists gathered outside his home late Saturday, many of them crying.

Despite a polarizing political career, tributes poured in for the politician who gave Bombay its new name of Mumbai — seen as a bid to rid the city of its past as a British colony and emphasize its Marathi roots, notes The Washington Post.

Thackeray’s son and successor, Uddhav, lit the funeral pyre in Shivaji park as the Hindu leader’s body was given full states honors. Supporters chanted “Thackeray is immortal” as his body burned before them.

Thackeray’s supporters often called him Hindu Hriday Samrat, or emperor of Hindu hearts. Kumar Ketkar, the editor of a local daily and a respected political commentator, stated of the procession, “Mumbai has not seen a congregation like this in the past 50 years.”