Thousands bid tearful farewell to Hindustani music doyen Gavai

The visually-impaired vocalist, who played several instruments, wrote books in Kannada, Hindi and Sanskrit and gave shelter and education to hundreds of poor children, was given a state funeral at Gadag, 480 km from here.

Amidst chanting of prayers and a gun salute by a state police contingent, the body of Gavai was buried in a sitting positing, according to the customs of the Veerashaiva (worshippers of Hindu god Shiva) community.

Music lovers and his followers in thousands, religious heads and leaders of various of political parties attended the funeral ceremony at Veereshwara Punyashrama (complex) he headed.

Home Minister VS Acharya represented the state government at the funeral. He told media persons that the central government will be requested to confer the country's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, on the doyen of Hindustani music who was well versed in Carnatic style of music as well. Gavai has been conferred the Padma Bhusan, the third highest civilian award.

Earlier the body of the exponent of the Gwalior Gharana was kept at a stadium in Gadag for public to pay their respects. The body, kept in a glass enclosure, was later taken in a procession to his complex with thousands of people following it.

In the morning Chief Minister BS Yeddiyurappa went to Gadag from Bangalore and paid his respects to Gavai, hailed in Karnataka as 'living god' and 'light of the blind' for his service in providing shelter and education to the poor children, particularly visually impaired, to make them self-reliant.

Yeddyurappa announced that memorial for the doyen will be built in Gadag at a cost of Rs.50 million. "The foundation stone will be laid next month," he said.

The state government declared mourning Saturday and holiday for government offices as a mark of respect to the multi-faceted personality.

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