India

Mourners shave heads for India's Jayalalitha

A supporter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jayaraman gets her head shaved near Jayalalitha's burial site in Chennai, India, December 7, 2016. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jayalalitha inspired devotion among many in Tamil Nadu

Mourners in India have been shaving their heads as a mark of respect to the charismatic politician J Jayalalitha, who died on Monday night.

Tens of thousands attended the burial of the chief minister of the southern state of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old, a former actress, was buried near Marina beach in Chennai. Her death sparked widespread grief.

Head shaving is a Hindu mourning tradition usually reserved for the death of a close relative.

Supporters of the deceased leader are sitting on plastic chairs around Jayalalitha's grave to have their heads shaved.

One elderly woman screamed and beat her head repeatedly with her hands, banging herself against the police barricades around the grave.

"She took care of everything and we wanted for nothing," 47-year-old Paramashiva told AFP news agency after having his head shaved.

The practice of hair-shaving - or "tonsuring" as it is termed when done for religious reasons - is also associated with seeking blessings from Hindu gods, in the hope that they will bless devotees with good luck in return.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mourners have been flocking to Jayalalitha's grave near Marina beach in Chennai
Image copyright AFP
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Media captionA look back at the career of J Jayalalitha

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