In the hour of their deepest grief, the Thackeray family which had drifted apart over the last few years, came together as one. The demise of the patriarch Bal Thackeray saw estranged cousins and political rivals, Uddhav and Raj in perfect sync with one another, giving each other strength as their families took part in the funeral as a joined unit.
A rare moment of camaraderie and closeness between the formerly warring cousins was seen when Uddhav comforted Raj, as he broke down after his uncle's funeral pyre had been lit.
The entire funeral, which was streamed live by television channels on Sunday, saw the family including Uddhav, his wife Rashmi, sons Aditya and Tejas along with MNS chief Raj Thackeray's wife Sharmila and children on the flower bedecked truck that carried Thackeray's body.
Raj, however, walked ahead of the truck along with followers, keeping a low profile. Other members of the family, including all of Thackeray's grandchildren, and his other daughter-in-law Smita Thackeray were seen together. Sharmila and Rashmi sat next to each other and watched the rituals.
It was Uddhav who greeted the lakhs of followers from the truck along with son Aditya. Raj avoided going to Sena Bhavan, but was seen later at Shivaji Park. While conducting the last rites, Uddhav made sure that both Raj and his elder brother Jaidev were a part of the ritual.
Uddhav magnanimously insisted that his father's caretaker, Champa singh Thapa and secretary for several years Ravindra Mhatre begin the rituals with him.
The rituals began with the sprinkling of Gangajal on the pyre. All the grandchildren including Raj's son, Amit, also participated in the last rites. Sources close to the Thackerays said that the family came together on Saturday evening as they got news of the demise of the Sena chief.
For several hours, late into Saturday night, the family sat together mourning, even as Bal Thackeray's body was kept in a glass coffin.