Her last rites: Why was Jayalalithaa buried, and not cremated? | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Her last rites: Why was Jayalalithaa buried, and not cremated?

The burial, rather than cremation, of J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday alongside the memorial of her mentor and former Tamil Nadu chief minister MG Ramachandran on Marina Beach, generated curiosity.

Jaya unwell Updated: Dec 06, 2016 22:30 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
The mortal remains of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa carried during her funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday.
The mortal remains of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa carried during her funeral procession in Chennai on Tuesday. (PTI)

The burial, rather than cremation, of J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday alongside the memorial of her mentor and former Tamil Nadu chief minister MG Ramachandran on Marina Beach, generated curiosity.

Custom dictates that a Tamil Brahmin – whether Iyer or Iyengar – has to be cremated after death.

“Going by the practice, Jayalalithaa, a Tamil Iyengar Brahmin, was supposed to be cremated. It was rather surprising as to why she was buried,” said G Venkataraman, an Iyengar Brahmin.

Read: Jayalalithaa buried near MGR Memorial in Chennai, thousands bid teary adieu

Two reasons are being cited for the burial: tradition and politics.

In Dravidian culture and tradition, Brahminical rituals are a strict no, and people don’t care for gods and similar symbols. “That’s why Dravidian leaders don’t attach much importance to such rituals,” said Prof Aarasu of the Tamil department in Madras University.

Jayalalithaa might be a Brahmin and also a staunch believer of Hindu religious rituals, but she was the leader of a Dravidian party which is closely associated with the Periyar movement that was anti-Brahminical in nature, the expert said.

“Since the party is deciding on the matters, it is a burial.”

Besides, another reason could be playing its part too. There are memorials for MGR and Anna Durai on Marina Beach and the party would like to erect a monument in Jayalalithaa’s memory as well.

Read: For Jayalalithaa, no public display of faith, but no shying away either

Video: Turning points in Jayalalithaa’s life