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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

Last updated on: November 18, 2012 20:06 IST

Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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Vaihayasi Pande Daniel in Mumbai

I have never seen such a vast ocean of humanity.  And probably never will. It was unforgettable, says Rediff.com's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel.   

When I first arrived in Mumbai as a student to study at Elphinstone College, decades ago, I remember encountering my first Sena bandh.

My mom was visiting and had a train to catch from VT station, as it was called then, on a day that was declared a Sena-sponsored bandh. Being an outsider I didn't think anything of it. But my college pals did. They were grave. We all ended up walking from Colaba bus station to VT, wheeling my mom's luggage, as we went. And yes, she got her train.

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com

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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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Today as I stood at the balcony of a building overlooking Mahim Causeway, waiting for Balasaheb's cortege to arrive from Matoshree, I was reminded of that moment of ignorance more than 25 years ago.

The longer you continued to live in Mumbai the better your understanding of the Sena power.

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com

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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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You became a true Mumbaikar when you learned it was wise to have a healthy respect for it.

But as I stood at that balcony and watched Thackeray's cortege actually pass I realised I did not know much at all.

The true meaning of his power became startlingly clear today.

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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His cortege took an hour to travel hardly a few furlongs, by the time it reached Mahim Causeway.

It was joined, as it inched along, by throngs and throngs of fresh followers at every corner. Simple people, holding pictures, signs, newspapers and sporting, out of respect, a dash of orange -- an orange scarf, an orange t-shirt or a saffron hat -- and yelling themselves hoarse shouting slogans in the memory of their Boss of Mumbai.

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Image: A bundle of flowers hangs above the street near Paradise cinema in Mahim to shower flowers on the cortege at a pull on the string
Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com

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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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And because the organisers, whoever they may be, had ensured this day was relatively peaceful, the bystanders also grew by the thousands -- teenagers, little kids, budding photographers, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, the curious, the sad, the astounded...

Every time you looked down in the street and were practically flabbergasted at how full it was, you realised you had not seen anything yet.



Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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Moment by moment the streets got more and more flooded with waves of thousands and thousands of people.

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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Finally, when the cortege drew abreast, lakhs of faces were swirling below you like ants.

I have never seen such a vast ocean of humanity.  And probably never will. It was unforgettable.

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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Whether you liked/agreed with Thackeray's politics, or not, it was a moment of goose bumps.

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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One was witnessing history in the making...

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Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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Thackeray's cortege: 'Witnessing history in the making'

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History like it can only happen in India.


Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com
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