Why was Iyengar Brahmin J Jayalalithaa buried instead of being cremated

Chennai, Dec 07: Unlike other Dravidian leaders, J Jayalalithaa was a religious individual who’d often pray and was even seen with an Iyengar Namam on her forehead. Yet the state government and the Sasikala family took the decision to bury her instead of cremating, as is the norm for Iyengars. A senior government official explained the decision claiming that Jaya wasn’t cremated because she was ‘beyond caste or religious identity’. He told Indian Express: “She was not an Iyengar for us. She was beyond any caste or religious identity. Even most of all the Dravidian leaders, including Periyar, Annadurai and MGR, were all buried and we do not have a precedent of consigning their body to flames even after death. So, we bury them with sandalwood and rose water.” The burial of these leaders also allows their resting places to become a form of memorial.

The mortal remains of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa was buried beside her mentor M.G. Ramachandran’s burial at Marina Beach on Tuesday evening with full state honours. Jayalalithaa’s last rites were performed by her confidante Sasikala Natarajan. Her body, draped in the national flag and kept in a sandalwood coffin, was buried with full state honours and was given a gun salute by the army.

Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad were prominent people who attended the funeral.

An army truck, which served as a hearse, took at least an hour to cover a three-km journey from Rajaji Hall to Marina Beach. Thousands of people lined up along the route to pay respect to their beloved Amma, who served them fiver terms as the chief minister.

People showered flowers at the hearse. Big photographs of the late chief minister were placed all around the coffin and her long-time companion Sasikala and her family were seated next to it. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam also travelled on the hearse. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee paid their last respect to Jayalalithaa. Prime Minister Modi was seen condoling Sasikala, who stood by Jayalalithaa’s body all day. A seven-day state mourning has been declared from today morning to mourn the death of the five-time Chief Minister and a three-day holiday has also been announced for all the educational institutions in the state.