India’s leading fashion designer, author, social activist and Padma Shri awardee Wendell Rodricks was on Thursday laid to rest in his ancestral village with hundreds of people including villagers, family members, friends, politicians, business world personalities and students from different walks of life bidding final adieu to the departed fashion designer. Around 2,000 people attended the funeral.
Rodricks had died on Wednesday evening at his Colvale residence while in sleep. Respecting the last wish of the fashion designer, no visitors were allowed inside his residence except his close family members and relatives.
At around 4 pm, the funeral cortege left his house and the mortal remains were brought in a hearse van, accompanied by his spouse Jerome to the St Francis of Assisi church, Colvale where people anxiously waited to bid the final adieu.
Parish priest of Colvale Fr Januario D’Costa along with other four priests presided over the funeral mass. Wendell’s partner Jerome Marrel, his younger brothers Robin, Chester and Joel and other family members were present.
The minimalist designer’s coffin reflected his love for white through patches of crochet and white ribbons that adorned it.
People found it difficult to believe that Wendell was no more, as the choir sung the entrance hymn, “… You alone are my strength my shield, to you alone may my spirit yield…”
Parish priest Fr Januario D’Costa, who made the Eucharistic celebration pondered on Wendell’s life.
“He might have had world fame and riches, but he always lived a humble life and was always there for the needy,” the priest said.
He then went on to say that Wendell was a crusader, who fought to take care of the world. “Wendell gave us a glimpse of heaven through his creations in white,” he said.
The homily was given by Fr Freddy Lobo, who concelebrated the Eucharistic celebration along with Fr Dr Simao Rodrigues, Fr Dr Maverick Fernandes and Fr Loiola Pereira.
The village choir was also joined by the noted Goan fadista Sonia Shirsat.
The niece of the fashion designer read a eulogy for him, moving everyone to tears. Wendell’s younger brother Joel, who spoke before the final blessing expressed how his eldest brother was a father figure to him.
“He was a quick learner. He loved singing and playing. I thank him for bringing music into our lives. Yesterday was very tough, because he left us forever,” Joel said, adding that it was sad that Wendell’s life was cut short at 59, when he still had so much to accomplish.
“We will take forward his legacy of Moda Goa which was his dream project,” Joel announced coming out clear on what would happen to Wendell’s dream project.
“Not many have had such a full life,” Joel said before adding that it’s not the years in one’s life that count but the life in one’s years,” Joel maintained.
Pointing out, “As we mourn his death, we also celebrate his life. And when you remember him, smile and be generous.”
As the final prayer was being said, people formed a beeline to the cemetery in the church compound.
Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi, fashion designer Monty Sally, noted photographer Farrokh Chothia, Bina Ramani, model Prathamesh Maulingkar and others also attended the mass.
Politicians like Digambar Kamat, Nilkanth Halarnkar, Elvis Gomes and former minister Alex Sequeira, industrialists Pallavi Dempo and Shrinivas Dempo, and former GCCI president Cesar Menezes were also present.
Describing Wendell as one of the nicest persons he had ever met in his life, Bollywood actor Arshad Warsi said, “Every time I was in Goa, we used to meet. And he was a flawless person. I got to know him better at the Literary Festival in Bhutan. People like Wendell should not depart early.”
A group of students and teachers from Government Polytechnic, Panaji was also present to pay homage to their loving mentor as Wendell was associated with the institution for last 21 years.
A teacher Cheryl Saldanha said, “Till November he has been attending almost every exam encouraging our students which we can never forget. He has been inspiring and enlightening us.”
A Colvale villager and ex-road traffic officer Servo Fernandes attending the funeral told this daily that Wendell was also an active Gaonkar of the village Communidade.
“Not many know that he was a practicing Roman Catholic, who had great faith in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St Anthony,” Fernandes said.