Mourners on Saturday bid a tearful farewell to three-year-old Gurshan Singh Channa — remembering him as a “loving and bubbly” child — as his parents prepared to take the toddler's body to India for the last rites, more than a week after it was found dumped in a northern Melbourne suburb.
At a Sikh funeral service, visitors paid their tributes to the child and placed flower petals on his body, which was kept in a small open white coffin.
Indian Consul-General Anita Nair, Victorian Minister for Community Development Lily D'Ambrosio, and leading members of the Indian community were among those who attended the memorial in Thomastown to comfort Gurshan's parents — Harjit Singh Channa and his wife Harpreet Kaur.
Ms. Kaur addressed the memorial in English, saying that despite her high hopes for life with her “loving and bubbly” son and husband in Australia, “destiny had something else in mind, and now we are going back without Gurshan's smile and his lively presence.”
Vasan Srinivasan, president of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, said the toddler's family wished to thank the Victorian police, Victorian government, State Emergency Service workers and the broader Australian community for their support.
Mr. Srinivasan said arrangements were being made to help Gurshan's parents fly out of Melbourne for Delhi on Saturday night with the toddler's body.
The couple will reach India on Sunday morning and the last rites are expected to be performed on Monday in Faridkot, Punjab.
Mr. Channa said he would discuss the possibility of returning to Australia with his parents, who are arriving from Canada to attend the funeral.
“We may come back after enrolling in a course but have not decided yet,” he told PTI.
He said he was sad and angry about the incident that happened with his son and asked the media to question the accused as to what made him commit such a heinous crime.
Gursewak Dhillon, 23, a resident of the Lalor home where Gurshan and his parents were also staying, has been charged with manslaughter by criminal negligence over the child's death.
Dhillon claimed he accidentally knocked the toddler down before dumping him 20 km away from his residence.