J Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s beloved Amma (mother), was buried this evening on Chennai’s Marina Beach, with lakhs gathered and united in an immense but peaceful show of grief.
A red carpet was laid around the grave where her coffin, made of sandalwood, was lowered just after sunset. Around it stood some of the country’s most powerful leaders. Outside, the roads were grid-locked with people who wanted one final glimpse at the iconic Iron Lady. “Amma Vazhga” they chanted (long live Amma). As far as the eye could see, they stood. Women broke into wails, clutching their chests in mourning. Some said they had walked between seven and ten kilometres.
The state funeral included a guard of honour at the beach, where the 68-year-old politician was laid to rest next to MG Ramachandran. The pair starred together in several blockbuster Tamil films before shifting to politics. Ms Jayalalithaa’s burial, rather than a cremation, is seen as in keeping with the Dravidian movement, rationalist and pivoted against Brahmin rituals, a movement whose leaders have dominated Tamil Nadu politics for decades.