A mourning service organized Thursday at the Self-Realization Fellowship Center in Encinitas, San Diego, where the late sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar had resided for the last two decades, paid a fitting tribute to the musician who passed away Dec.11 following complaints of breathing difficulties.
The late sitarist had undergone a surgery to replace a heart valve at the Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he died aged 92.
Daughter Norah Jones led the mourners at the memorial service that also saw her sister Anoushka Shankar, her husband Joe Wright and Ravi Shankar's wife Sukanya Rajan take part in the proceedings.
Reportedly, over 700 people turned up for the service held at the golden-domed ashram that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking to leading online publication Rediff on the occasion, Lakshmi Shankar, the musician's sister-in-law, said the ashes of the late sitar player were being taken to Varnasi for the final rites.
Remembering the musician's gentle spirit and pleasant sense of humor, several luminaries took the stage to pay their respects to the artist whose music is attributed to have bridged the East-West cultural chasm.
Beatles guitarist George Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison, recalled how Shankar helped her husband achieve a meaningful life when he was a young Beatle.
"They were like father and son as well as brothers," Olivia stated atop an outdoor stage decorated with garlands of white flowers, the Daily Mail has reported.
Harrison and Shankar came together when the former decided to learn the musical instrument that captured his fancy. Apparently, the pair is said to have spent several weeks together sharing the lessons in England, Kashmir and later in California.
Speaking on the occasion, conductor Zubin Mehta recalled how he felt like a "little crumb" listening to Shankar play and credited the musician with introducing India to the world.
Shankar's music and recorded voice were played to the audience who also heard excerpts of newspaper reports that showcased Shankar's enormous influence on Indian music.
Shankar's son-in-law, film director Joe Wright, noted how the family was unsure if Shankar would survive the risky medical operation conducted recently. Wright recalled how he thought he might never again see Shankar alive as he was rolled into the operating room though Shankar recovered successfully from the operation.
Apparently, Wright saw Shankar's fingers moving as he was wheeled away. “I never at any moment saw his fingers not playing, not beating a rhythm,” Wright told the Daily Mail.
Shankar delivered his last musical performance with his daughter, sitarist Anoushka Shankar Wright, Nov. 4, in Long Beach, Calif. His foundation stated that the performance marked his tenth decade of creating music.
A press release issued Dec. 14 has stated how Shankar's family members were discussing the possibility of holding public concerts in New York and London to celebrate the maestro's music.