HOUSTON – It was an emotional day on Tuesday for family and friends of Bharti Shahani, the 22-year-old Texas A&M student who died after being injured at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival on Nov.5.
Shahani was with her sister and cousin at the concert when they were trapped in a crowd surge with hundreds of others. Shahani remained in a coma for nearly a week before she was declared dead at 6:50 p.m. on Nov. 11, becoming the 9th victim in the tragedy.
Mourners greeted her grief-stricken parents with loving hugs and condolences as a video montage of Shahani played on a screen. Images from birth to her adult years showed the happy days of the young woman who family members say is “gone too soon.”
See the most powerful and emotional moments from mourners at the funeral of Shahani:
Those who knew her best described what she meant to them.
“Bharti was like a younger sister to me. I think I never believed this day would actually come, like deep down, and now I don’t know what to say,” her cousin who attended the festival with her said. “There are about 200,000 words in the English language and I don’t think any of those 200,000 words come close, they all feel hollow compared to Bharti’s soul. The most elegant prose you can write over the course of weeks doesn’t come close to capturing the essence of who Bharti was. I think her mom said it best, ‘Bharti is love.’”
He went on to describe Bharti as a kind, compassionate and selfless person, sharing a short story about a family trip at the Kemah Boardwalk. He recalled getting dizzy on one of the rides and Shahani was right by his side, checking on him to see if he was OK. He said that even though he was standoffish, Shahani remained patient and loving, as always.
“I think the fact that she chose to stay there with someone, honestly, who was being rude to her instead of going off to enjoy herself with the rest of her family, shows Bharti’s character,” he said.
Another cousin described Shahani as the “mature one” who took care of everyone. She said that her little sister would always look to Shahani for answers.
“It makes me really sad that the other day when Bharti was still in the hospital, we were getting Subway and (her sister) didn’t know what to put on her sandwich and kept on looking around and she finally looked at me and I was like, that’s what Bharti used to do for her.
The cousin said they always make fun of Shahani, jokingly telling her, “Bharti, you’re such a mom.”
Shahani’s cousin said if there was one thing she could do differently, it would be to tell Shahani “don’t go” to the ill-fated concert.
Another cousin who is three years younger than Shahani spoke about the creativity and care she had when dealing with the younger ones; dressing up as a scary old man and making haunted houses, spinning them around in chairs pretending it was a rollercoaster, and other fun ways to keep them entertained. She said when she was struggling to adjust to college life, Shahani stepped in to help her adjust.
“I can’t imagine going to college without her now. I miss my hugs from the world’s best hugger. They were so warm and comforting,” she said. “I’m going to miss our homework sessions, having her here. Bharti was the greatest cousin and sister someone can have in their life. She was always readily there to support me no matter the time, and I miss you so much.”
Shahani’s youngest sister said, “God always picks the most amazing and good people to take with him and you were one of them,” she said. “The last words that Bharti said to me were when she was dropping me off at my friend’s house and I said ‘see you tomorrow night’ and you just smiled at me and said.....”
Unable to finish, the sister broke down crying and was escorted away.
Shahani’s other sister stepped in to finish, saying their big sister was “very put together” and was the one person that she could open up to completely. She says she now does not know what to do and feels very lonely. They were together at the concert and she said she wishes that she could have held her hand tighter and not let go when they were ripped apart by the crowd. She said she constantly wonders about the “what-ifs” even though there was nothing they could have done to stop it.