Mexico City: Fans of Mexico`s late Latin music legend Juan Gabriel wiped away tears on Monday as they filed past his ashes while mariachis played his hits in the capital`s ornate Fine Arts Palace.
The urn containing the star`s ashes stood on a lectern above a red carpet as men, women and children walked by.
A mariachi band wearing sombreros and blue charro suits played as throngs took photos with their phones, made signs of the cross and dried their eyes with tissues.
Thousands braved the rain outside Mexico City`s domed cultural center to get a chance to say goodbye a week after he died of a heart attack at age 66.
Drivers in the mega-city stopped to take photos as a hearse carrying his ashes crossed the capital under police escort after arriving from the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Fans danced and sang "Amor Eterno" ("Eternal Love") and other favorites outside the palace. The authorities expect hundreds of thousands of people to file past the urn until Tuesday.
The singer known as the "Divo of Juarez," who touched millions with wrenching ballads of love and loneliness, died on August 28 at his home in Santa Monica, California during a break in his latest tour.
An old-school idol some dubbed Mexico`s Elvis Presley, Gabriel wrote hit songs, sold tens of millions of records and received six Grammy nominations.
He earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a barrier-busting career that won him admirers around the world.
His hits included "No Tengo Dinero" ("I Have No Money"), "Hasta Que Te Conoci" (Until I Met You) and "Amor Eterno."
The ashes of "Juanga," whose real name was Alberto Aguilera Valadez, were taken to Ciudad Juarez, where his career began, over the weekend before arriving in Mexico City.Paty Berumen, a 39-year-old mother of six who works as a clown in El Paso, Texas, traveled to Mexico City last week to say goodbye to her idol.
"I don`t just like Juanga, I love him," she said outside the Fine Arts palace.