Politics

Photo Essay: Scenes of Grief and Devotion From Jayalalithaa’s Public Viewing

The day of the viewing saw enormous crowds gather to catch a final glimpse of their beloved Amma and also capture the frenzy on their cellphones.

On 4th December, after mixed reports from TV channels, AIADMK party workers celebrate the statement that their leader was still alive. Credit: Gayatri Nair

Mayhem occurred as soon as rumours of Jayalalitha’s death spread like wildfire on the evening of December 4, 2016 . Supporters gathered at the AIADMK office to show their solidarity. The news of her sudden cardiac arrest and her critical condition created panic in the state, especially in the capital city, in spite of her being hospitalised for over two months. Credit: Gayatri Nair

 

Supporters outside Jayalalithaa's home. Credit: Maveeran Somasundaram

Jayalalitha supporters got emotional for their beloved Amma (Mother) near her residence at Poes Garden, Chennai. The area was cordoned off as soon the official announcement of her death was made. People moved quickly from Apollo hospital, where she had been admitted for treatment for the last two months, to Poes Garden in the middle of the night, just to get a glimpse of her. Credit: Maveeran Somasundaram

 

Jayalalithaa's casket. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

Fondly known as Amma and also as the Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa was an iconic politician in Dravidian politics and a former film star known for her feminism and tightfisted control. Her casket was buried next to her mentor MGR’s off Marina beach in Chennai. The burial is also considered to be a departure from her Brahminical roots. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

Sasikala, Jayalalitha's closest aide. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

Sasikala, Jayalalitha’s closest aide, stuck firmly by the chief minister’s body during the public viewing at Rajaji Hall in Chennai. She was like family to Jayalalithaa and is now speculated to be the next general secretary of the AIADMK, even though she has not held any formal position before. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

A staunch Jayalalitha supporter wears an Amma ring made in gold. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

A staunch Jayalalitha supporter wore an Amma ring made in gold. Most of her supporters are known to be obsessed with her image and carry personalised mementos of her. Jayalalithaa’s politics was also one of dominance and self-promotion – the vast number of billboards and life-size signages of her, stickers of her face on schoolbags and other freebies donated by her government, even on rice sacks that were distributed during the floods were widely noted and criticised as well. But Jayalalithaa’s charm created a strong support base that doesn’t just idolize her, but worships her. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

Police struggled to control crowds. Credit: Gayatri Nair

Chennai and Tamil Nadu grieved the loss of their beloved chief minister. Many publications claimed the state was orphaned by the loss of their Amma. There was a near stampede as huge crowds thronged to get a last glimpse of her as her body was kept at Rajaji Hall for public viewing in Chennai. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

Police had a tough time controlling the crowd and had to, at times, resort to lathi charges to control the hordes of supporters who wanted to get a closer look at their mother-like chief minister. The conspicuous absence of women in the crowd, whose upliftment was one of Jayalalithaa's primary agendas, was a bit surprising.

Police had a tough time controlling the crowd and had to, at times, resort to lathi charges to control the hordes of supporters who wanted to get a closer look at their mother-like chief minister. The conspicuous absence of women in the crowd, whose upliftment was one of Jayalalithaa’s primary agendas, was a bit surprising. Credit: Gayatri Nair

 

While Chennai seemed like a ghost town with uncharacteristically empty roads, the day of the public viewing saw enormous crowds gather to catch a glimpse and capture the frenzy on their cellphones, including the policemen as seen here. Perhaps the delayed formal announcement of Jayalalithaa's demise abated the intensity of people's emotional response towards the unfortunate event, but it was surprising to see people more concerned with taking photographs than their sense of grief. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

While Chennai seemed like a ghost town with uncharacteristically empty roads, the day of the public viewing saw enormous crowds gather to catch a glimpse and capture the frenzy on their cellphones, including the policemen as seen here. Perhaps the delayed formal announcement of Jayalalithaa’s demise abated the intensity of people’s emotional response towards the unfortunate event, but it was surprising to see people more concerned with taking photographs than their sense of grief. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

A supporter reacts emotionally as soon as he gets a view of his beloved Chief Minister, J Jayalalitha as her body is put in the casket and is being taken to be put at rest at Marina beach. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

A supporter reacted emotionally as soon as he got a view of his beloved chief minister, Jayalalitha as her body was put in the casket and taken to be put at rest at Marina Beach. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

Enormous crowds at public viewing. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

Huge crowds gathered at Rajaji Hall to bid adieu to their chief minister who passed away on December 5, 2016, in Chennai. J. Jayalitha (19478-2016) will continue to remain one of the most iconic women in Indian politics, whose struggle cannot be disregarded in spite of the corrupt tag that she carried. Credit: Shuchi Kapoor

 

Huge crowds gathered at Rajaji Hall to bid adieu to their chief minister who passed away on December 5, 2016, in Chennai. J. Jayalitha (19478-2016) will continue to remain one of the most iconic women in Indian politics, whose struggle cannot be disregarded in spite of the corrupt tag that she carried. Credit: Gayatri Nair

Huge crowds gathered at Rajaji Hall to bid adieu to their chief minister who passed away on December 5, 2016, in Chennai. J. Jayalitha (19478-2016) will continue to remain one of the most iconic women in Indian politics, whose struggle cannot be disregarded in spite of the corrupt tag that she carried. Credit: Gayatri Nair