Staunch supporters of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who has been in the hospital for a fortnight now, have taken to several unconventional methods to pray for her recovery. From public prayers and pujas to strange feats, fans of ‘Amma’, as the 68-year-old AIADMK leader is reverentially known, know no bounds when it comes to hoping for her well being.
1. Occupying Apollo Hospital
For the last 13 days, Greams Road and Greams Lane in Chennai have seen a flurry of activity, with hundreds of supporters initially gathering outside of Apollo Hospital to pray for Jayalalithaa. Though that number has considerably dwindled, cadres from the ruling AIADMK and party supporters are still maintaining their vigil.
2. Public pujas
Public pujas have been held since day one for the ailing CM, with party MLAs across Tamil Nadu using temples to show their devotion. It’s not confined to one religion either: Her Muslims supporters also prayed for her last week.
One cadre took his devotion to Amma a little far when he attempted self-immolation in Virudhachalam of coastal Cuddalore district on Wednesday. The man sustained 30% burn injuries, according to a Tamil news channel. Last month, a former police constable and AIADMK supporter in Salem also attempted to set himself on alight.
4. Heights of devotion
Monday’s procession in the chief minister’s constituency of RK Nagar saw something a little more different. Hundreds of workers assembled with pails of milk, while one even hung from a crane by means of hooks pierced into his back — an act usually done in devotion to Lord Murugan.
5. Support from all ages
Even children weren’t spared from the excesses of Jayalalithaa’s supporters, with multiple images of young girls and boys with their cheeks pierced with arrows (again, a common practice among Murugan devotees) being circulated across regional media.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed, however. On Wednesday, PMK leader S Ramadoss said it was “a human rights violation”.
“There were more than 20 children, from 5 to 12, who had their cheeks pierced. Children cannot be forced to do such things,” he said.