Jayalalithaa's was buried with full state honours, next to her political mentor MGR, at Marina Beach
Chennai: An era ended as J Jayalalithaa was lowered into the ground in a sandalwood casket next to the memorial of her mentor, MG Ramachandran or MGR at Chennai's Marina Beach on Tuesday evening. Last rites were performed by the politician's long-time companion Sasikala Natarajan, who also received the national flag that had draped Ms Jayalalithaa's body. The former chief minister was buried with full state honours. Ms Jayalalithaa, 68, died at 11.30 on Monday night, after a huge cardiac arrest the day before.
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Thousands lined the route as Ms Jayalalithaa's body was taken to Marina Beach on an Army truck in a slow procession. It took over an hour to cover the three kilometres from Rajaji Hall, a public auditorium in Chennai where Ms Jayalalithaa's body lay in state all day.
Lakhs of people packed the large grounds of Rajaji Hall and grown men and women wept in grief as they attempted to reach the body of their beloved Amma or mother as Ms Jayalalithaa was fondly known to her millions of supporters.
Sasikala Natarajan, dressed in black, was near Ms Jayalalithaa's body all day and rode in the hearse to Marina Beach. At Rajaji Hall both she and O Panneerselvam, who took oath last night as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, were consoled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited Chennai to pay his respects to Ms Jayalalithaa.
PM Modi flew in a chopper to Rajaji Hall from the Chennai airport. President Pranab Mukherjee too paid tribute to Ms Jayalalithaa. His arrival in Chennai was delayed by a technical snag in his plane.
Chief Ministers of eight states like Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal and Akhilesh Yadav of Uttar Pradesh, and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were among many top political leaders who attended Ms Jayalalithaa's funeral. Thousands of supporters were also present.
In huge relief for the administration, there has been no violence since the news of Ms Jayalalithaa's death. For lakhs whose devotion to her bordered on the religious, self-harming shows of loyalty were not uncommon.
When she was arrested on corruption charges in 2014, her party said 200 people committed suicide in anger and sorrow. Public buses were set on fire. From within jail, the politician asked - as urged by the Supreme Court - for calm to be maintained.
Ms Jayalalithaa was revered especially by the rural poor for the vast amount of giveaways she provided - mixer-grinders, laptops - ahead of elections. In recent years, her government introduced the Amma brand of massively subsidised water, canteens and medicines which endeared her further to the poor, while stressing the state's finances.
Earlier this year, Ms Jayalalithaa beat a nearly three-decade-long tradition to be re-elected as Chief Minister, her fourth term. Before that, Tamil Nadu alternated between choosing Ms Jayalalithaa and political adversary, the DMK.
Ms Jayalalithaa died at Apollo Hospital, where she was admitted on September 22 with complaints of fever and dehydration. Her condition soon worsened and she was treated for a serious lung ailment. For many weeks, she was on support systems in the Intensive Care section.