There was public outpouring of grief today as lakhs of people from across Assam and other northeastern states turned out to pay their last respects to cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika, compelling the state government to postpone his cremation to tomorrow.
Hazarika's body has been kept inside a glass casket and draped in traditional Assamese 'gamosa' at the Judge's Field here and people queued up to have a glimpse of the acclaimed composer-singer and pay their last respects since 3 am.
Queues nearly 3 km long were seen as people, large number of them coming straight from railway and bus stations, waited patiently to pay their last respects to Assam's most famous son.
The people came on foot as public transport kept off the road. All shops and business establishments in the city were also closed.
Songs sung by him were played on loudspeakers and huge posters of Hazarika were put up across the city. Candles and diyas were lighted in the evening by each household as a mark of respect.
All-faith prayer meetings and traditional Assamese 'naam-prasanga' and 'gayan-bayan' were held inside temporary air-conditioned pandal where the body has been kept.
The state government has declared a state holiday today under Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led the mourners and laid wreaths on the mortal remains of the maestro on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi during the day.