Thousands of people poured onto the streets of a town in the southern Indian state of Karnataka to say goodbye to a homeless man who had succumbed to his injuries from an accident.
In a heartfelt gesture, residents of Hoovina Hadagali town honoured their bond with the beggar Basava — also known as ‘huchcha Basya’ (mad Basya) — by giving him a grand funeral with banners, music and flowers on Sunday.
Many organisations, local residents and shopkeepers pooled resources and funds to hold his funeral procession. Around 3,000 to 4,000 people are believed to have attended Basava’s final journey.
#WATCH: Thousands paid their last respects to a mentally challenged beggar Basya in #Vijayanagar district, #Karnataka. He died after being hit by a bus on Nov 12. Mortal remains were taken in a procession. Basya took only Re 1 as alms from a person and return the rest. pic.twitter.com/zYBKGIXnQh
— Suraj Suresh (@Suraj_Suresh16) November 17, 2021
Many locals remembered Basava, who had psychosocial disabilities, for his habit of only taking Rs 1 (1p) as alms as he sat at the town’s bus stand from a very young age, according to The New Indian Express.
If anyone offered him more than that, he would insist on giving back the excess money, locals said. Despite repeated attempts by many to give him more money, he is said to have always resisted.
When people stopped by to give him money, Basava would smile widely at them, flashing his missing two front teeth, local resident Shrinivas Reddy said. “He never troubled anyone and was a regular member of the town till he died,” Mr Reddy said.
No one knew about his family or where he was originally from.
Basava referred to everyone as “appa ji”, or father, with respect.
Over 3,000 people joined the funeral procession of Basava, a homeless man in Karnataka's Ballari pic.twitter.com/KsrBO7vAPh
— Shishir Rao.S (@Shishir_rao97) November 18, 2021
He lived under a shed in the bus stand, and the spot eventually came to be synonymous with Basava, residents say. In fact, when locals could not find Basava at the bus stand once, panic spread across the town and led to a search that ended only after he was found.
When authorities would scour through the town to remove beggars and rehabilitate them, locals stopped the police and other departments from disturbing Basava, Mr Reddy said.
Last week, Basava was hit by a moving bus, which injured him severely and led to his hospitalisation. He succumbed to his injuries three days later, and his funeral procession was held on 14 November.