Chennai: Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s family carried out her last rites on Tuesday as per Hindu customs. They were upset with AIADMK’s decision to bury her instead of cremating her. Jayalalithaa’s step-brother Varadaraju reportedly led the rituals at Paschima Vahini in Srirangapatna.
Varadaraju raised questions over the party’s decision to bury Jayalalithaa despite the fact that she had been a believer unlike other Dravidian leaders who had been buried too. Some of the other relatives of the AIADMK leader took part in her last rites that involved cremation of a doll supposed to be her replica.
Earlier, the decision to bury Jayalalithaa, revered as ‘Amma’ in Tamil Nadu, was explained by a senior government secretary. “She was not an Iyengar for us,” he said. “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 official had told the IndianExpress.com.
However, some of the political analysts believe there was more to this burial than what met the eye. “Since she was a believer, it is obvious that people expect her being cremated after death. But they need a blood relative to light the funeral pyre. The only blood relative Jayalalithaa had here is Deepa Jayakumar (daughter of Jayakumar, Jayalalithaa’s late brother)
. It is obvious that Sasikala clan did not want Deepa anywhere near the funeral procession fearing a potential challenge,” said a political analyst who has observed the burial of many Tamil Nadu leaders.
Since Dravidian leaders are mostly atheists denouncing god and similar symbols, the burial of the leaders allows followers to remember them in the form of a memorial.