Anna Hazare received a hero's welcome on his return to his native village in Ahmednagar district Monday evening to the accompaniment of Jai Ho number, two days after the social activist ended his 98-hour fast against corruption.
The 73-year-old Gandhian was taken in a victory procession in a makeshift Vijay Rath, as women and children holding tri-colour in their hands marched the streets hailing the feat of their beloved leader who returned home for the first time after ending his fast in New Delhi on Saturday.
Sweets were distributed by people mounted on an elephant, while horses and camels were also lined up in the procession. Crackers were burst and fireworks lit up the evening sky as the anti-corruption crusader was taken through the streets of his small village, even as the famous Jai Ho number accompanied the patriotic music played by the village band.
The whole village wore a festive look as women drew colourful rangolis in front of their houses. Every household in this village, with a population of about 3,000, put up the traditional Gudi -- a bamboo stick draped in new cloth and decorated with garland and neem leaves --on the rooftops to welcome their Anna.
Earlier, citizens from various walks of life thronged the Pune Airport to welcome Hazare, who arrived there earlier in the day from New Delhi. The crowd raised slogans cheering Hazare, who accepted their greetings with folded hands and a gentle smile before proceeding for Ralegan Siddhi.
Hazare, who went on a fast-unto-death from April 5, ended his 97-hour fast on Saturday after the government issued a notification constituting a joint committee of ministers and civil society activists to draft an effective Lokpal Bill. Bhajan and lezim mandals from all over district have reached Ralegan to accord a warm homecoming to Hazare.
Sweets were also being prepared in huge quantities for distribution on the occasion. Shyam Asawa, trustee of the activist's Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan, told mediapersons that lunch and dinner were arranged for all who came to the activist's village to welcome him.Right to Information activist Arvind Kejriwal had said on Sunday that Hazare will spend a few days in "peace" before returning to Delhi for the deliberations of the joint committee formed for the Lokpal Bill. Hazare had told mediapersons on Sunday, "I will spend some time with them." The deliberations on the Lok Pal bill will begin on April 16.