Parliament was adjourned on Friday after paying rich tributes to the former South African President, Nelson Mandela. The government also announced a five-day state mourning as a mark of respect for the anti-apartheid icon.

The National Flag would be flown half mast until December 10 throughout the country and there would be no official entertainment, an official spokesperson said.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in condoled with the passing away of Mr. Mandela.

Mr. Mukherjee said, “President Mandela was a statesman, world leader and icon of inspiration for humanity. He was a great friend of India and his contribution for strengthening the close ties between our two countries will be always remembered.’’

Mr. Ansari described Mr. Mandela as “one of the greatest personalities of our times, who represented the best of human spirit and values.”

“He was a living symbol of his people’s quest for freedom and dignity against tyranny and injustice. While his courage, determination and sacrifice inspired millions of people during the anti-apartheid movement, his message of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation thereafter, united them and led the rainbow nation on the path to peace and progress,” he said.

Dr. Singh said Mr. Mandela fought discrimination and inhuman exclusion, but rose above bitter divisions to heal and reconcile a fractured nation. His life and work made him a citizen of the world. India, in particular, had great affection and regard for him.

Parliament was adjourned for the day after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha chairperson Mr. Ansari made obituary reference.

Recalling her visit to Robben Island, where Mandela was jailed for 27 years, Ms. Kumar said it was like a pilgrimage and one of the most inspiring moments of her life.

Paying rich tributes to Mr. Mandela in the Lok Sabha, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said: “the anti-apartheid icon redefined the meaning of courage, sacrifice and forgiveness and his death is like losing “a beloved father. Today, I join millions of Indians in mourning his loss. We feel bereft, as though we have lost a beloved father. We will be forever grateful that such a one as he walked this Earth of ours.”

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