Goodbye, Captain: Actor and DMDK founder Vijayakanth is laid to rest with full state honours!

Veteran actor and founder of DMDK party, Vijayakanth has been laid to rest with full state honours at the party's headquarters in Koyambedu, Chennai during the evening hours of Friday - December 29 in the midst of the presence of a sea of people. Vijayakanth, who was fondly called as 'Captain' and Puratchi Kalaignar', has breathed his last on Thursday at the age of 71 due to pneumonia. 

Vijayakanth was active both in cinema and politics for five decades and went dormant after 2014 in the wake of his ailing health condition. He was down with Covid-19 several times and refrained from making public appearances. On November 18, he was admitted to MIOT Hospitals in Chennai due to lung-related ailments and was discharged on December 11. 

However, he was taken to the hospital again on December 26 for what was said as a regular medical review. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated and he was tested positive for Covid and was put under ventilator support. Despite the best efforts from the medical team to save him, Vijayakanth breathed his last at 6.10 am on Thursday - December 28. 

Following his demise, his body was taken from the hospital to his residence in Saligramam, Chennai. As the news of his demise became the talk of the town, thousands of people from across Tamil Nadu started arriving in Chennai to pay their last respects to their icon. After a brief stop at his residence, his body was taken to his political party DMDK headquarters in Koyambedu, Chennai. 

Several celebrities and general public gathered there to pay homage and the party has announced that Vijayakanth's last rites will be held at 4.45 pm on Friday. Earlier, Chief Minister MK Stalin, after paying his respect and consoling the bereaving family, announced that Vijayakanth's funeral will be done with full state honours as a recognition for his unparallelled contributions to public life both as an actor and politician. 

As the influx of people to see Vijayakanth surged up, Vijayakanth's body was taken to the Island Grounds in Chennai during the evening hours of Thursday with the view of managing overwhelming crowds. The state government has deployed proper measures and stationed hundreds of police officers to control the crowds. As expected, thousands of people arrived at Island Grounds on Friday to pay tribute to the deceased leader. 

Celebrities from Rajinikanth to Kamal Haasan have paid their last respects and arrangements were made to bury his body at the party's headquarters in Koyambedu. During the evening hours on Friday, Vijayakanth's final journey began from Island Grounds to Koyambedu and throughout the stretch, a sea of people followed the procession that it took over three hours to reach Koyambedu. 

After his body reached Koyambedu, it was taken to the party's headquarters where the arrangements were made to bury his mortal remains. The government has restricted the entry of the general public near the burial site and as his last rites were accorded with full state honours, the police fired 72 gun shots on air. Chief Minister MK Stalin, along with senior ministers, paid his last respects before the body was laid to rest. 

Vijayakanth's body was kept in a sandalwood coffin that carried his name 'Puratchi Kalaignar Captain Vijayakanth'. The last rites were performed by Vijayakanth's sons Vijaya Prabhakaran and Shanmuga Pandian. After the rituals, the coffin was closed and the legendary actor was laid to rest. Millions of people who gathered near the burial site and who watched the proceedings from their home gave a teary sendoff for their favourite icon. 

The party's headquarters witnessed a deluge of people who turned on the flashlight on their mobile phones during the last rituals in a way of showing that they share the pain over Vijayakanth's death and to express solidarity to Vijayakanth's family at this difficult time. As Vijayakanth's era has come to an end, Chief Minister MK Stalin took to social media and wrote, "You will live in our hearts forever, my friend."