Mumbai and cities across the country paused in homage to the victims of the terror attack here on its first anniversary on Thursday marked by candlelight vigils, prayer meetings and reassuring display of security by city police.
Bearing its sorrow with fortitude, Mumbai remembered its dead as the country stood united behind it in grief and resolve to vanquish terror a year after 10 gunmen arrived here from Pakistan with their weapons blazing to snuff out the lives of 166 innocent persons during a bloody 60-hour siege.
One guman Ajmal Kasab was captured alive.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal, teeming with ordinary people, Cama hospital tending to the sick and dying, India's icons of hospitality--Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Oberoi and Trident, or the modest Jewish centre in Nariman House, all silently remembered the unprecedented attack on the country's financial capital as the terrorists scripted a gory tale in blood with bullets.
From Shahrukh Khan who turned painter for the occasion to Amitabh Bachchan joining a chorus of singers, India's film fraternity also paid tribute to the heroes and victims of the 26/11 terror attacks.
Black-clad commandos rappelled down tall buildings, as prayers and vigils were held across Mumbai and silent tributes were held in Parliament and before India's cricket Test match with Sri Lanka in Kanpur.
Showing solidarity with the people of Mumbai, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram unveiled a martyrs' memorial for 18 security personnel including policemen killed during the terror attacks.
In Delhi, Parliament remembered the victims and resolved to unitedly defeat the forces of terrorism which posed the gravest threat to humanity.
A slew of memorials and events were held across the country with the underlying message "we are resilient and strong".
In Mumbai, Candle light vigils, multi-faith prayer meetings, a smart parade by Maharashtra police's anti-terror arm `Force One' with an assortment of weaponry to reassure a shaken city about its safety and solemn promises to keep it out of harm's way marked the day-long commemoration.
Life in the city went on at the usual robust pace with the suburban trains, its lifeline, gobbling up and disgorging its vast multitudes, and streets and thoroughfares abuzz with activity. Leopold cafe where the first bullets were fired by the terrorists bustled with activity.
Children went to school and able-bodied to work, but all bowed reverently in solemn silence in front of large posters of the martyrs that dotted the city.
Posters of Mumbai police bravehearts--its ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Addl Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and constable Tukaram Ombale, who grappled with and pinned down Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani gunman captured alive, dominated major streets.
Thousands who thronged the Gateway of India for a memorial congregation led by Chidambaram and Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, made the pledge to "together protect Mumbai and Maharashtra".
In southern Mumbai, diplomats and local faith leaders attended a service at a synagogue, where candles were lit for the victims of the Nariman House attack.
Patriotism alternated with anger as many in the crowd shouted "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Kasab Ko Phansi Do" in the same breath.
"What is the point in serving Kasab, who killed our brothers, Biryani. If the government's hands are tied, hand him over to us, we will do justice," one of them demanded.
A smiling portrait of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, taken after their marriage greeted the pensive stream of visitors at Nariman House, the Jewish Chhabad movement centre that was seized by the terrorists.
Hundreds of Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Christians lined up to light candles in the memory of those killed during the Nariman House siege.
A grim-faced Chidambaram told a gathering after inaugurating the martyrs' memorial to honour the supreme sacrifice made by security forces "a year ago, the very idea of secular, plural, tolerant and democratic India was attacked."
"This is an occasion for remembrance and thanksgiving and not to make a speech. The adversary chose the target carefully which included two iconic buildings," he said.
Commending the Mumbai police for rising as one force to defend the integrity of India, he said,"I ask all of you to respect the security forces of India. They keep vigil in jungles of Assam, on naval bases and our skies."
In Delhi, Parliament remembered those killed in the terror attacks and resolved to unitedly defeat the forces of terrorism which posed the gravest threat to humanity.
Members in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha stood in silence for a minute in memory of those killed.
"The House salutes the indomitable courage of the security forces who gave a crushing blow to the terrorists on November 26, 2008 and the fortitude of the people of Mumbai, " Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said.
In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari recalled the way Mumbai quickly attained normalcy after the terror attack.
Karambir Kang, general manager of Taj whose wife and two children were killed in the attacks, who is busy supervising restoration of the hotel, said, "one cannot be totally healed from such a tragedy, but I am doing my best".
Shahrukh Khan who turned painter for a moment joined a unique attempt to remember those who lost their lives on the eventful day by painting on a wall at Marine Lines.
"It was a very tragic event, but the good thing that happened was that the tragedy brought the people of Mumbai together and closer," said actor Aamir Khan.
Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said he went numb watching the live telecast of terror attacks in the dressing room in Cuttack during the India-England cricket match. "At first I thought they were showing a movie...Things like this happening in India...in our own Mumbai...I went numb for some time."
Keywords: Mumbai terror, 26/11 attacks, anniversary, Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, Sachin Tendulkar, Aamir Khan, pay homage, tributes, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, candle light vigils, Shahrukh Khan, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal