It was understood that the people of Assam loved Dr. Bhupen Hazarika very much, but the wave of condolences poured on the legendary singer was unique and never to be repeated. Not only Assam, the entire eastern India with Bangladesh had shown their greatest farewell to the versatile genius. More to it, the news channels and newspapers of Assam had dedicated their precious space for full five days to Bhupenda, as millions of his fans called the cultural icon.
The news broke from Mumbai, where Bhupenda, 86, was undergoing treatment for some weeks, at around 4.37 pm of November 5, 2011.
An official statement of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai where he was undergoing treatment since June 29 after complaining of breathlessness, said Bhupenda died of multiple-organ failure. Thus came to halt for a larger than life image personality.
The self-proclaimed Jajabor (wanderer or gypsy), who tried his hands in various field of creation as a poet, lyricist, singer, music composer, author, journalist and filmmaker, is the most exposed, discussed and reported personality in Assam for the last six decades.
With his immortal voice, the bard of Brahmaputra was equally popular in mainland India, and also in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
As a director, some of Bhupenda’s outstanding Assamese films include Era Batar Sur (1956), Mahut Bandhure (1958), Shakuntala (1960), Pratidhwani (1964), Lotighoti (1967), Chick Mick Bijuli (1970), Mon Projapati (1978), Siraj (1988) etc.
As the news spread about the demise of the legend, who is considered one of the most admired personalities after Shrimanta Shankardev and Jyotiprasad Agarwalla in Assamese society, households put earthen lamps in front of their houses. The well-wishers gathered at the residence of Bhupenda at Nizarapar in Guwahati. Similarly thousands thronged at the Dighalipukhuri park in the city, where the All Assam Students Union erected a life size statue of Bhupenda in 2009 to pay tribute to the mass communicator.
Since the news broke, people cutting across age, ethnicity and political ideology, started pouring their tributes to the most celebrated singer.
Bhupenda’s body was taken to Guwahati on November 7 amidst the tears of hundreds of thousands fans. Guwahati virtually wept while receiving their most adorned icon in a coffin.
For 36 hours Bhupenda’s body was kept at Judges field in the heart of the city for public viewing and tributes. And people from the whole region came to pay their last tribute t their beloved Bhupenda round the clock. It was amazing, how even elderly citizens gathered at the Judges field at midnight hours to have a last glimpse of their icon, who was sleeping in a glass covered coffin. The eternal voice of Bhupenda was vibrating in the air through out the State as everyone played his songs at home and their localities. They also mourned his demise by lighting lamps in front of his photographs.
The newspapers had dedicated entire pages for Bhupenda with the life-size photographs on the front pages. The FM radio and news channels continued life coverage of Bhupenda’s last journey amidst public grief for five days. The previous and whole day of cremation on November 9 was covered live for 24 hours by all six Guwahati based satellite news channels.
While his son Tej Bhupen Hazarika, who arrived in Guwahati from his work place New York, performed his last rites, nearly 50 thousand people witnessed the moment gathered at the Gauhati University campus.
Millions of television viewers sobbed while paying their final farewell to the greatest son of the soil of recent time and took pledge to keep alive their uncrowned prince of music forever in their hearts.