Hundreds of mourners filled an Auckland church yesterday to farewell the 4-year-old boy who died at his daycare last week.
Aldrich Viju was described as a "little angel" at a memorial service held at the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Ellerslie.
Bouquets lined the front of an altar as about 300 friends, family and members of the Auckland Malayali Samajam community overflowed into the aisle of the church.
Aldrich, who was four months shy of his fifth birthday, died in a tragic accident in the playground of Angels Childcare Centre in Takapuna on Friday afternoon.
Family and friends gathered outside the church before the service, some crying and clasping their hands in prayer.
The young boy's father, Viju Vareed, was sobbing inconsolably at the start of the service, and was escorted out for a period of time.
Aldrich's small white casket was carried inside the church at 10.45am, his father one of the pall-bearers.
Sombre chanting in Malayalam, the family's native language, filled the church.
The priest began in English.
"We all have pain in our hearts," he said before describing the 4-year-old as "our little angel".
"The angel is in the hands of God now. We don't understand why, but God does."
Family spokesman and president of the Malayali community, Joseph Devasia said when Vareed left the church at the beginning of the service, he said he did not want anyone to see his son like this.
"I want to see only his smiling face," he translated.
"He hasn't accepted it at all. He is in denial" Devasia said, of the father's grief.
A neighbour of the family gave a eulogy explaining how his children used to play with Aldrich and his 2-year-old sister, Andrea.
"His life was short but during his short stay on this earth he had demonstrated his love.
"He had an enchanting smile."
The neighbour said Andrea misses playing games with her big brother.
"We know that you're an angel and are in a better place now. We say goodbye to you. You will always be living in our hearts, thoughts and memories."
The boy's family are due to fly home to the town of Kochi, in Kerala, India today, where they will stay for a few months.
Aldrich's body will be flown to India on Wednesday.
It is not yet known how the young boy died.
Devasia said the child's father dropped him off at daycare at about 1.30pm on his way to work at a factory in Henderson.
"He got called before he reached work at about 2pm," he said.
Aldrich's mother, a nurse at North Shore Hospital was working when the incident happened.
The boy started attending Angels Childcare Centre a few months ago as his parents wanted him to get more socialisation at a bigger daycare before starting school in the new year.
The family were still in the dark about the details of what happened on Friday.
However, Devasia confirmed that Aldrich was playing outside on playground equipment when the incident happened.
Devasia said the boy's funeral will take place in Kochi, Kerala on Friday.
"The family are very shocked by the news. They are busy preparing everything [in Kerala] for his parents," Devasia said.