The funeral service for the long-serving Secretary-General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Satnarayan Maharaj, took place today.
With hundreds in attendance, the service started just after his body arrived at Maha Sabha headquarters in St Augustine at 8.27 am on Tuesday.
As his body was brought in, pundits and the congregation sang the theme song of the Maha Sabha, Kaho Ek Baar.
Reality struck one young woman who rushed to the front where his body was being placed with tears in her eyes. The realisation of the loss of a man she saw as a guru was too much for her.
The pundits, led by Pundit Omardath Maharaj, then recited verses of the Ramayana.
A number of Government, Opposition members and religious leaders were in attendance at the funeral, including Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Minister of Education, Anthony Garcia, and Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon.
President-General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha—Sabha Pundit Krishna Rambally—described the late Maharaj as a mighty man, and a giant. He said the four minutes he was given to speak about Maharaj were not enough to even mention his name, considering his long list of achievements in culture, education and religion.
Pundit Rambally said Maharaj led the SDMS with tact and will be remembered as divine.
The pundit said Maharaj was the pillar and strength for the Hindu community who made a massive difference and was not one to be easily discouraged.
He said he cannot thank him for his contribution to the Hindu community.
As Lakshmi Girls High School topped the President's medal for the 5th year in a row, Sharmain Bhagaloo-Maharaj of the Principals Association said Maharaj would be remembered as a loving, caring father figure. Fighting to hold back the tears, she said the late SDMS head was passionate about his schools and on no account would any of his schools be closed unnecessarily.
Bhagaloo-Maharaj said he modernised 42 schools and built five, transforming them from cowsheds to esteemed institutions.
But Principal of Laskshmi Girls High School Sonia Mahase said Maharaj already knew that the school would have made the achievement for the 5th time.
Father Martin Sirju on behalf of the Inter- Religous Organisation said Maharaj had a passion, a purpose and a cause in whatever he did, characteristics a man is nothing without.
Story by CARISA LEE & SHALIZA HASSANALI