Hundreds of people attended the church service, which was held at The Church of our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Siglap, to bid farewell to Sonia - one of the 10 Singaporeans who lost their lives on Mount Kinabalu when an earthquake struck last Friday.
After the church service, the mourners moved to the crematorium, where family and friends overflowed the packed hall.
Many were dressed in football jerseys of the 12-year-old’s favourite team Tottenham Hotspur. Those without a jersey came decked in the team’s colours of blue and white because Sonia’s sister Karishma, 18, had requested them to do so.
Her parents took turns donning a bright yellow and blue Tottenham Hotspur scarf throughout the day, before placing it in the coffin at the end of the funeral service, together with her favourite teddy bear Isabelle.
The mood was anything but sombre as her father, Mr Jaidip Jhala, delivered his eulogy, including an account of Sonia going for netball trials at the Singapore Sports School, along with other TKPS netballers. Spotting two girls from St Hilda’s Primary School practising alone at the trials, Sonia invited them to join her.
Loved ones at Sonia Jhala's funeral procession. (TODAY/Photo: Don Wong)
“She said to them: ‘Today we are not (from) TKPS or St Hilda’s. Today we are netball players’, ” said Mr Jhala, a businessman.
On another occasion three years ago, Sonia’s gracious act of giving up her seat on a crowded bus prompted a member of the public to write in to her school to commend her, recalled her father, 48.
Sonia’s mother described her as a compassionate and sporty Bollywood princess who enjoyed dancing and playing netball and football. Her ambition was to be a sports teacher, she added.
“She was definitely passionate about netball and we thought she’ll like to go as a netball player, ” added Mrs Jhala, explaining their decision to dress Sonia in her school team jersey.
Sonia also shared the same birthday with her mother - March 30.
Said Mrs Jhala: “Every birthday, we’ll celebrate together.”
Family and friends bidding farewell to Sonia Jhala, one of the victims of the Mount Kinabalu earthquake. #SabahQuake (Video by Lim Jia Qi)Posted by 938LIVE on Wednesday, June 10, 2015
To her schoolmates, Sonia was always the life of the party.
“Every day, she would play pranks on everyone in class. She was the class clown, ” said her best friend Raeka Ee, 12.