In the temple town of Rameswaram, massive preparations are on to give a farewell suitable for their favourite son.
Keeping his secular credentials in mind and his love for all religions, a special prayer will be held at the Rameshwar temple with which the former President shared a childhood bond and the Mohideen Aandavar Masjid.
Saisuresh Sivaswamy/Rediff.com reports from Rameswaram.
Technically, less than a mile separates the two shrines, but on Thursday, July 30, even this brief physical distance will be bridged by the two acting differently yet, in a way, so much in concert.
The Rameshwar/Siva temple in Rameswaram, commemorating where Lord Ram prayed to Eshwar (Siva) before leaving for Lanka to rescue his wife, will hold a special Moksha Deepam (a prayer for the departed) on Thursday at 5 pm, to pray for the departed former President, the town's own son Avul Pakir Jainulabdin Abdul Kalam.
Confirming this, an official from the temple office said unlike in other faiths, in Hinduism, prayers are held for the departed soul after the last rites are performed. "Since he will be buried by tomorrow afternoon, we will hold the Moksha Deepam after that, at 5 pm," he said.
A young Kalam, growing up in the town that sprang up under the shadow of the towering, sprawling temple, shared a special bond with it. His close friends in school were Brahmin boys, whose fathers were priests in the temple.
His playing the Veena, and interest in Carnatic music, he has attributed to the early influences of growing up within earshot of the music emanating from the various temples in the town.
Earlier in the day, the town's Muslims will gather at the Mohideen Aandavar Masjid, a stone's throw from the House of Kalam, the family home in the town's Mosque Street, for Dr Kalam's Alvida Namaaz (final prayers).
On Wednesday afternoon, the mosque was preparing for the event by setting up a sound box etc.
Meanwhile, the public tribute to Dr Kalam is expected to wind up by Wednesday night, but judging by the thousands who have gathered at the venue, it seems like a long shot. His mortal remains will be taken later on Wednesday night to the House of Kalam, and by 7 am on Thursday the body will be brought to the mosque for final preparation.
The Namaaz-e-Janaaza (the prayer before burial) will be offered at 10 am, following which the armed forces will claim the body of the former Supreme Commander of the armed forces for a ceremonial burial at the Peikarumbu Maidan near the bus-stand, and where a memorial for the town's illustrious son has been sanctioned.