Chennai: J Jayalalithaa - Tamil Nadu's iconic leader who was regarded as 'Amma' (mother) by millions of her supporters, was laid to rest with full state honours near the MGR memorial on Chennai's Marina Beach on Tuesday evening.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top leaders joined the nation to pay their last respects to the iconic actor-turned-politician.
As the sun began to set, Jayalalithaa's confidante Sasikala Natarajan performed the final rituals overseen by a Brahmin priest before her tricolour-draped body in a sandalwood casket was lowered into a grave near the MGR memorial.
Clad in a black saree, Sasikala, who remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin, remained beside the casket of the departed leader as people filed past it paying their homage.
Sasikala, who earned the sobriquet of 'Jayalalithaa's shadow' by detractors looked lost even as she acknowledged the condolences of visitors.
The relations between the two had hit a rock bottom in 2011 when Jayalalithaa had expelled her close aide Sasikala and scores of her relatives following allegations that they interfered in the affairs of the party and government.
However, in a turn of events, Sasikala had on March 28, 2012 issued a written statement through AIADMK-promoted Jaya TV, stating that she had snapped ties with all those who had "betrayed" Jayalalithaa.
Accepting the explanation, Jayalalithaa had on March 31 announced that the disciplinary action against Sasikala was cancelled, signalling a patch-up.
The Indian Express reported that either Sasikala or M Thambidurai are most likely to be elected as the AIADMK general secretary.
As an era ended in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa's last journey started from Rajaji Hall, where lakhs thronged for a final look at their iconic leader, and slowly moved towards the Marina Beach flooded with mourners.
The three-kilometre procession through Chennai streets, packed on both sides by men and women, many weeping, consumed more than an hour.
The AIADMK chief was laid to rest with full state honours next to her mentor and party founder M.G. Ramachandran or MGR, who brought the young Jayalalithaa from filmdom into the male-dominated Dravidian politics.
Her successor Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and Sasikala, dressed in black, were seated on the military truck that towed the glass casket-laden carriage with Jayalalithaa's body.
Her admirers and fans, young and old, showered petals at the hearse. Many refused to accept that Jayalalithaa had passed away, leaving the AIADMK orphaned.
As the funeral procession reached its destination, sobs filled the air. Many were in tears.
There were dramatic displays of emotion, with people wailing inconsolably and beating their chests and heads. There were loud cries of "Amma, Amma".