Community mourns friendly, family-loving woman
SHE was a devout Hindu – yet even the local Catholic priest became aware of Savita Halappanavar in the weeks before her tragic death.
A classical Indian dancer, she had volunteered her services to teach children for a multi-cultural event in the Galway suburb of Roscam, where she had put down firm roots.
The beautiful, energetic Indian woman with the smiling eyes and her husband Praveen had planned on seeking Irish citizenship.
The couple had arrived in Galway from their native India in 2008 soon after their marriage. And they planned to be here forever – to raise their family and to grow old together in this country that was so far from the home they first knew.
"They loved living here," a friend said.
"I never saw her sad," another added. "Savita was always very bubbly – always smiling. She was a good friend. She was a very good person." She was a very good organiser and a "normal" person who liked normal things, he revealed.
As friends grappled to come to terms with her wholly unexpected and shocking death, they told how Savita (31) was at a very happy time in her life.
She had found out that she was expecting a girl and as the only girl in her own family, with two older brothers, she was over the moon at the prospect of a little daughter.
Things were going well for the couple.
Praveen had solid work as an engineer at Boston Scientific and Savita had achieved her dental exams, which meant her qualifications were recognised in Ireland, but had recently given up her work in a dental practice since finding out that she was pregnant.
"She was in a very good moment of her life – she was settling down," a close friend and dental associate said.
"This was what she wanted – she loved children and she always loved treating young patients. She had a good way with them."
Savita had "transformed" the Diwali celebrations for the Galway community, said friend Sunil Koppuri.
"The Indian community would gather together for some music or food but once Savita came into the community she started to train the kids how to dance and the traditional celebrations. She will definitely be missed."
Praveen often videoed the Diwali celebrations, proudly capturing images of his pretty wife as she showed off her skills.
However, sometimes he was pulled in front of camera to take part in the pieces Savita had choreographed. At the 2010 Diwali celebrations, the pair danced the Zor Ka Zhatkha.
The recent visit of Savita's parents had been a source of great joy for this family-loving young woman.
They had spent three months in Galway with the couple and when they found out about the pregnancy, even left clothes behind so that they could travel lighter for the next planned visit in March – when they expected to meet their new granddaughter.
"She was a lovely person by all accounts," said Fr Martin Glynn of the Good Shepherd parish close to Savita's home.
The picture painted of this happy, family-orientated young woman betrayed no hint that Savita might go on to become the central figurehead in a renewed debate about abortion.
A Hindu dentist working in Galway who was a good friend stressed that Savita would have been aware of what was happening to her in the hospital.
"She was not a lay person. She knew what was happening. She died in a hospital – not at home. This should not have happened."