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Legendary actor, director and playwright Girish Karnad was 'quietly' cremated as per his last wish

Girish Karnad, a Jnanpith winner, multi-lingual scholar, master playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and an iconic personality in India's cultural landscape, died here on Monday. He was 81. "Karnad died at his home at around 8.30 a.m. due to age-related symptoms," an official in the Karnataka Chief Minister's office told IANS. The veteran artist is survived by his widow Saraswathy Ganapathy, his son Raghu Amay and daughter Shalmali Radha.

As per Karnad's last wishes, his mortal remains were cremated at a local crematorium "quietly" in the presence of his family members, close relatives and a few friends. No rituals were conducted or customs observed. The body was taken in an ambulance to Kalapalli electric crematorium in the city's eastern suburb, with his bereaved family, relatives and friends following it in a convoy without fanfare, police security or escort. "Though the Karnataka government decided to conduct Karnad's last rites with state honours, we have decided to respect his wishes and allowed his family to do it accordingly," an official told IANS.

When hundreds turned up at Karnad's house to pay homage, the family requested them to pay their last respects to him at the crematorium and declined to keep his body for public viewing outside. According to a family source, Karnad succumbed to multi-organ failure at his residence on Lavelle Road, the city's upscale locality near Cubbon Park. The state government declared a day's holiday on Monday as a mark of respect to Karnad and a three-day mourning will be observed across the state till June 12.

"The scheduled state Cabinet expansion on Wednesday has also been postponed to June 14 due to the mourning period," said the official in the chief minister's office. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal-Secular supremo H.D. Deve Gowda and Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers D.V. Sadananda Gowda have mourned Karnad's demise and offered their condolences to his family members and relatives.

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