Unlike many other Dravidian leaders, J Jayalalithaa was a believer, who prayed and at times sported the Iyengar Namam on her forehead. So the decision to bury her instead of a cremation — the ritual for the Tamil Brahmin community of Iyengars — has sparked off speculation on the mode of last rites chosen by the state government and the Sasikala family.
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A senior government secretary, who was part of the funeral preparations, says the state settled for a burial as ‘Jayalalithaa transcended her religion and caste identities’. “She was not an Iyengar for us.
She was beyond any caste or religious identity. Most Dravidian leaders including Periyar, Annadurai and MGR were all buried as we do not have a precedent of setting their bodies to flames during last rites. So we bury them with sandalwood and rose water,” he said.