Thousands turn up to bid adieu at Coffee King VG Siddhartha's funeral

The crowd was largely dominated by the presence of coffee plantation workers, who had turned-up from Chikkamaglur, Kodagu, Hassan and Dakshina Kannada district.
Thousands turn up to bid adieu at Coffee King VG Siddhartha's funeral
Thousands turn up to bid adieu at Coffee King VG Siddhartha's funeral
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By Mohan K and Nagaraj

As the sun set on Wednesday, the funeral pyre of VG Siddhartha was lit by his emotionally overwhelmed eldest son Amartya Hegde, even as the late Siddhartha’s mother Vasanthi Hegde, wife Malavika Hegde and son Ishaan were seen consoling one another.

A person close to the family confided that the information about Siddhartha’s death has been withheld from his father Gangaiah Hegde, the 95-year old who has been in coma at a private hospital at Mysuru. “In fact, recently prior to meeting his family he had visited his father at the hospital to check on his health, Siddhartha had made some routine inquiry and did not seem to be in distress,” he said.   

At least 10,000 people were seen around the family’s Chattanahalli estate at Cheekanahalli village in Mudigere taluk. Political representatives including Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, former CM HD Kumaraswamy; legislators including CT Ravi, UT Khader, MB Patil and local elected representatives were present in Chikkamagaluru to pay their respects.

Across several parts at Kandya Hobli, Balehonnur, Cheekenahalli, Kottigehara in Chikkamagluru district, several private establishments had declared holiday on Wednesday.  “The moment the mortuary convoy along with the police escort entered Mudigeri taluk; people thronged towards it, children, workers, young, landlords, old almost everyone had filled the streets to catch the final glimpse of the man who had turned-around their fortune, especially the coffee plantation workers and the landowners who were thankful to him for streamlining the local produces and taking it to the global market” Murlidhar, Secretary of Karnataka Growers Federation said.

While initially the body that was escorted from Mangaluru was brought to Amalgamated Bean Company (ABC) facility at Chikkamagluru for public viewing, it was later taken to the families private at Chattanahalli estate in Cheekanahalli village for final rites.

Murlidhar observed that the major part of the event was observed 'silently' by the crowd befit as a tribute to the sober and humble nature of the Siddharatha, occasionally to be broken by the chants of ‘Long live Siddhartha’ by the crowd.

Largely dominated by the presence of coffee plantation workers, who had turned-up from Chikkamagluru, Kodagu, Hassan, Dakshina Kannada district, people were seen mourning the loss of VG Siddhartha, the founder proprietor of Café Coffee Day.

Vinay, one of the managers, who had worked for over 20-years at the ABC’s Coffee curing unit in Hassan, recounted the sober and ground-to-earth persona of Siddhartha. “He knew most of the workers personally, he would just walk up to them for conversation and talk about the need to sustain environment in the district,” he said.

A holder of a Masters of Degree in Economics from Mangalore University, Siddhartha had not only worked at international financial firms, but went on trading in the stock market. He eventually took over the licence of stock-broker Sivan Securities in 1984, which was renamed as Way2Wealth Investments Consultancy Firm in 1999.

Vinay says that Siddhartha very much reflected conservative ideas of his father Gangaiah, when it came to doing business. However, Siddhartha was enterprising in his own way. “Since he had a broad access to education and work experience, he wanted to explore on how local employment and opportunities can be created from the plantation in both financial and environmentally sustainable manner,” he said.

This aspiration eventually turned into the setting-up of ABC in 1993, that procured coffee beans from its over 12,000 acres of coffee plantation and delivered the coffee and allied products to domestic and international markets, Vinay said.

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