VARANASI, India – Hare Krishnas, paparazzi and fans gave up their wait for the ashes of former Beatle George Harrison to be scattered in the holy Ganges River as Hindu officials said Tuesday that Harrison’s family would come later in secret for the ceremony.
Harrison’s widow and son have not confirmed that his ashes would be sprinkled in the holy river and have remained silent about arrangements for the remains of Harrison, who was a devotee of the Hare Krishna sect of Hinduism. He died of cancer on Nov. 29.
However, fans flocked to Varanasi and other holy cities earlier this month after Hare Krishna officials said Harrison’s family was headed to the Ganges to conduct the ceremony. And on Tuesday, officials insisted the late Beatle’s ashes were still destined for the Ganges. They just don’t know when.
“The program has been postponed,” said a senior official of the International Society for Hare Krishna, on condition of anonymity “They will come with ashes and scatter them in the sacred Ganges River, secretly.”
Orthodox Hindus believe that ashes must be sprinkled in one of India’s holy rivers within 13 days of death. Wednesday marks the 13th day after Harrison’s death. Moderate Hindus say it can be done within a year.
The official speculated that another possible date could be Jan. 14 – an auspicious day in Hinduism. “They will come secretly to avoid the media blitz,” he said.
Harrison made many visits to India to study under musician Ravi Shankar and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh.
The day after his death and cremation, the Krishna society announced that the Beatles’ late lead guitarist wished to have his ashes immersed in the Ganges. Hindus believe this rite breaks the cycle of reincarnation and allows the soul to begin its final journey toward heaven.
Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.