?Goddess? Jaya offends Hindus | india | Hindustan Times
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?Goddess? Jaya offends Hindus

For J. Jayalalithaa?s followers, February 24 is the day. No, it?s not Diwali or Navratri, though they celebrate it as if it were one.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 02:28 IST

For J. Jayalalithaa’s followers, February 24 is the day. No, it’s not Diwali or Navratri, though they celebrate it as if it were one. It is the Puratchi Thalaivi’s birthday. In an election year, it assumes added significance as party members try to outdo each other to please Amma.

But then, can a Jayalalithaa birthday bash be without its share of controversy? This year, overenthusiastic cadres of the party’s Vridachalam unit came up with a banner showing Jayalalithaa as Goddess Annapurnai, the local deity, to coincide with her 58th birthday. As the press flashed pictures — of Amma holding a golden pot in one hand, a crown on her head, symbolising the Goddess that feeds one and all — Hindu organisations rose in protest. Overnight, a photograph of a caped CM replaced the “goddess”.

It isn’t the first time AIADMK members have tried to deify Amma. Giving a Christian touch in 1995, they superimposed her picture on Mother Mary’s. Christian organisations weren’t pleased and an embarrassed chief minister ordered her party men not celebrate her birthday with fanfare but instead play do-gooders on the occasion. Ever since, they have resorted to distributing free food and clothes to the needy.

But a decade is a long time in politics and the cadres went back to their old sycophantic tricks.