India

Second 'funeral' for Indian politician Jayalalitha

Body of India"s Tamil Nadu state former Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa is wrapped in the national flag and kept for public viewing outside an auditorium in Chennai, India, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption Jayalalitha was buried instead of being cremated

A man claiming to be an estranged cousin of one of India's most popular politicians, J Jayalalitha, says he has conducted a second funeral for her.

Jayalalitha, the four-time chief minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, died on 6 December.

She was buried in a state funeral in the presence of thousands of mourners. But members of her caste are always cremated so this was unusual.

K Vardarajan says he conducted a traditional cremation with an effigy.

However, Mr Vardarajan's claims that he is related to Jayalalitha have been contested by her niece Deepa Jayaram.

"I don't think we have any relatives left in Mysore who would conduct such a ceremony. Most of our family live abroad,'' she said.

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Senior members of her party were quoted by Indian media as saying that Jayalalitha was buried as she transcended caste for her people- and that burying her would give people a "monument" to remember her by.

But Mr Vardajan has expressed unhappiness with the funeral.

"They did not conduct the rituals as per the Sri Vaishnav traditions which dictate that a person must be cremated. Even in burying her, they did not follow the Hindu method. They put her in a box,'' K Vardarajan, who claims to be related to Jayalalitha through her stepfather, told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi.

"She will not attain `Moksha' (emancipation from the cycle of death and birth) by that burial," he added.

Mr Vardarajan said he conducted the final rites, together with a priest, on the banks of the Cauvery river near the city of Mysore, where Jayalalitha was born.

The priest, Ranganath Iyengar, said they used a "darba" (a kind of hay that is used during cremation) to symbolize the dead body while conducting the rites.

He added that the would also conduct the ninth and 10th day ceremonies as per Hindu tradition.