The city bade a teary adieu to the patriarch of its erstwhile royal family Ranjitsinh Gaekwad on Friday as his body was consigned to flames at Kirti Mandir,the royal crematorium near Sayaji Garden.
The funeral procession began from Laxmi Vilas Palace,the residence of the Gaekwads,at 10.30am after Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil paid floral tributes to the maharaja in Darbar Hall of the Palace.
Modi was joined by former state minister Bhupendra Singh Chudasama and MLA Pradipsinh Jadeja.
As the body was carried in an open truck,several royals from different parts of the country,local politicians,government officials,artists and thousands of citizens joined the funeral procession.
Vadodara MP Balkrishna Shukla,MLAs Yogesh Patel,Bhupendra Lakhwala,Jitendra Sukhadia,M S University vice-chancellor Prof Yogesh Singh,former cricketer Anshuman Gaekwad and local councillors led the procession with the royals.
Ranjitsinhs son Samarjitsinh lit the funeral pyre as the royal priest chanted Vedic mantras and a band of seven royal musicians played shehnais and drums along with the music band of Railway Police.
The ashes of Ranjitsinh would be immersed in river Narmada near Chandod in Bharuch district and in the river Ganga at Haridwar as per the family tradition.
Ranjitsinhs four sisters,Mrunalini Devi Puar (who is Chancellor of MSU),Pramila Raje,Saral Raje and Vasundhara Raje were also present. They were joined by Ranjitsinhs younger brother Sangramsinh Gaekwad,who lives in Mumbai,this morning.
Sangramsinh reached the Palace with wife,son and daughter-in-law around 9.30 am. The two brothers had been embroiled in a property dispute and the matter had reached the court.
Prince of erstwhile Jasdan state (now in Rajkot district) Satyajit Khachar and Apratim Sengupta of Kolkata,both sons-in-law of Ranjitsinh; royals of erstwhile Wankaner state,where Samarjitsinh is married,joined the funeral along with Urvashi Devi and Tusharsinh Maharaul,royals of Devgadh Baria; Manvendra Singh Gohil,prince of Rajpipla; Sardar Patankar,royal of Gwalior,from where Ranjitsinhs wife Shubhangini Devi hails; prince of Kolhapur (Maharashtra) Shambhajirao Bhosle; M Swanat Maraj of Sawantwadi (Karnataka); and Kartikrao Ghorpade of Sandur (Karnataka) among others.
To mourn the death of the maharaja,M S University observed a holiday today.
Bees scare mourners
Hundreds of bees attacked people outside Laxmi Vilas Palace when a beehive inside the palace was disturbed by smoke from the last rites. The mourners,including royals,politicians,policemen and mediapersons,ran for cover. A few were reportedly stung by the bees.