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With Songs And Tears, Lila's Hare Krishna Kindred Send Her to the Next Life

by theage.com.au

Posted February 6, 2008


Lila's mother Susan Manning, sister Marie and brother Bhisma mourn as her body is prepared for cremation.
Photo: Matt Wade

ANANDALILA "Lila" Salter died surrounded by the sound of sacred songs, the smell of incense and with her wounded head ringed with garlands.

The Australian teenager's three-day fight for life after being shot at close range by a stalker in the north Indian town of Vrindavan ended early yesterday.

Lila's mother Susan Manning, father Ian Salter and brothers and sisters were with her when she died, along with many supporters from the Hare Krishna movement she was a part of.

Her brother Zardi Manning said the holy chants being recited by loved ones where Lila lay reached a peak as she died.

"It was very amazing and beautiful," he told The Age. "She was very peaceful. It was exactly what she would have wanted."

Zardi then accompanied his sister's body while an autopsy was conducted by local authorities before a traditional Hindu funeral and cremation could begin.

"I'm being as strong as I can right now," he said. "But it's going to take a lifetime to get over this."

Zardi was at the house where Lila was attacked and had to resuscitate her several times while she was rushed to hospital.

Their grieving mother, who lives on the Gold Coast when she is not in India, said there was a sense of relief when Lila died.

"It's a good thing that she is now free," Ms Manning said.

The family says her killer, Saurav Singh, 28, had stalked her for several years before first raping her and then shooting her with a pistol early on Saturday.

She was rushed to a New Delhi hospital but specialist doctors said she was brain dead. Using an ambulance with life support equipment, the family then took Lila back to the holy city of Vrindavan to die.

She spent the last day of her life on life support at a property called the Mayapur Vrindavan Trust, where Hindu pilgrims are accommodated.

The family, who are all Hare Krishna devotees, wanted Lila to die in Vrindavan, the place where the deity Krishna is believed to have been raised.

"It's our belief that if a person dies here they are going to heaven," Ms Manning said.

"By doing this we have turned something so bad into something more positive."

She had hoped to avoid an autopsy on her daughter's body but local authorities insisted one be carried out.

When the autopsy was finished the body was prepared for a ritual procession to the holy Yamuna River for cremation. It was covered with richly coloured cloth and garlands.

"We feel that she is in God's hands," said her mother.

"God will now take care of her."

Ms Manning wept as she helped prepare the body for the funeral ceremony.

The dead woman's father Ian Salter joined with a large gathering of friends and family around the body who were singing spiritual songs.

The body was then carried in a small ambulance, followed by a large procession, to a local temple where Lila liked to worship. Her brothers carried her body on a palanquin around the temple three times before the procession headed through the holy city of Vrindavan to the river for cremation.

Article in theage.com.au