Thousands of mourners, comprising followers of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMA), principals, teachers, students and dignitaries are expected to pay their last respects to its fallen general secretary Sat Maharaj, today.
Maharaj, 88, died on Saturday, eight days after he suffered a stroke.
Since then, condolences came in from President Paula-Mae Weekes, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and a host of other religious and secular bodies.
SDMS’ legal adviser Dinesh Rambally, in outlining details of the funeral service and cremation of Maharaj, said the body is expected to arrive at the house of mourning, Champ Fleurs, at 7.30 am, where religious rituals will be performed for an hour.
By 8.30 am, Rambally said Maharaj’s body will be taken to the SDMS’s headquarters in St Augustine for his funeral service which begins at 9 am and ends at 10.30 am.
Although five people, who Rambally refused to identify, are rostered to deliver remarks, one family member is expected to deliver the eulogy.
From 10.30 am, the public will be allowed for one hour to view Maharaj’s body in the SDMS’s courtyard to offer their last respects.
Flowers will be accepted.
By noon, Maharaj’s body will be taken to the Caroni Cremation Site under police escort.
Maharaj’s funeral pyre must be lit before 1 pm, Rambally said.
Given Maharaj’s contribution to the Hindu community, Rambally said they expect a turnout of thousands for both the service and cremation.
Yesterday the SDMS announced a change of heart about allowing the media to cover the funeral service less than twenty-four hours after it issued a press release instituting the ban on the media houses.
“The media is therefore welcome to cover this event,” a press release today stated.
It blamed the decision to institute the ban on the actions of an unnamed reporter who it said disrespected religious proceedings at the wake on Sunday night. It said the reporter went “against our expressed wishes.”
The SDMS has been criticised for the move, with one pundit saying the decision was insulting to Mr Maharaj.
Several media houses reached out to the SDMS, the release stated, and having consulted on the matter it has “reconsidered its position.”
“We therefore have a duty and responsibility to ensure that the nation is given a proper opportunity to bid farewell to this national icon and titan of a man. We have therefore decided to allow full access to the funeral at the Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College and the cremation at the Caroni Cremation Site.”