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Cremation of Gandhi's body

By
JAMES MICHAELS

NEW DELHI, Jan. 31, 1948 (UP) - The body of sainted Mohandas K. Gandhi today was committed to the flames of the burning ghat as violence touched off by his assassination flared anew in Bombay.

The ancient Hindu ceremonial was carried out on the banks of the Jumna, one of the five sacred rivers of India, in a demonstration of national grief.

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Devadas Gandhi, eldest son of the slain leader, touched fire to the pyre to consume the earthly remains of India's great soul.

For the moment India's capital was unified by grief over Gandhi's death.

His body was borne through the streets of New Delhi and Old Delhi in such as procession as India had never seen. As the cortege passed, the hundreds of thousands of mourners left their places and followed the bier in a procession and wound more than five miles long behind Gandhi's body.

At the banks of the Jumna, the huge mass of humanity, wailing and weeping, packed around the newly bricked burning platform for as far as the eye could see.

Gandhi's body was placed on the pyre with wood heaped below and around it.

While the crowd raised a cry: "Gandhi! Gandhi! Gandhi!" Devadas began the ceremony.

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First an unguent, a mixture of liquid butter and incense, was poured over the pyre. Then Devadas faced toward the sun, now lowering to the west, and began to chant the ancient verses of the Sanskrit Veda, holy book of the Hindus.

The verses committed Gandhi to the gods who will be responsible for his next reincarnation.

As the chanting ceased, Devadas took flame from the sacred lamp, which had burned all night beside Gandhi's body, and touched it to the pyre.

The day was clear and warm. But a light wind arose and swirled up the dust raised by the naked feet of the hundreds of thousands of mourners. The dust hung over the whole eight-mile route of the cortege from Birla House to the banks of the sacred river.

All of Delhi gathered at the pyre in final tribute to Gandhi. There were leprous beggars in the crowd and there were true nabobs with rubies as big as pigeon eggs gleaming in their feather-bedecked turbans.

The shouting of the crowd rose to thunder as the cremation proceeded. Again and again they shouted: "Victory to Gandhi! Gandhi still lives!"

The multitude watched as the flames licked up through the sandalwood pyre, consuming Gandhi's earthly remains.

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