In tradition of southern Indian states which treat their silver screen heroes and political leaders as demi-gods, Jayalalithaa too amassed a following which mirrored the crazy fandom enjoyed by her mentor M G Ramachandran (MGR).
She joined AIADMK in 1982 and has been elected chief minister of Tamil Nadu six times in 34 years. If getting repeatedly elected to the top post is not evidence enough of the kind of adulation she enjoyed in the state, from time to time, Jayalalithaa's supporters managed to pull off one insane stunt or the other to show their love for the larger-than-life leader.
In several occasions, however, her supporters' devotion towards her crossed all boundaries of reason or understanding. When Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in prison in a disproportionate assets case by a Bangalore court in 2014, 16 people reportedly committed suicide, and several others died from shock. Another report suggested that 113 people had died of cardiac arrests and 41 others had committed suicide, according to party sources, at that time. Fans and supporters set themselves on fire, consumed poison, hung themselves from ceilings and jumped before vehicles in motion to kill themselves in grief.
On Monday, when reports of her health deteriorating poured in, it was reported that one person has died of shock. Following the official announcement of her death, several reports of fans attempting suicide has been heard.
Here's some of the absolutely gobsmacking things Jayalalithaa's fans have done over the years to show their love to their leader.
1. This man who 'crucified' himself in 2015, demanding Jayalalithaa be reinstated as Tamil Nadu's CM
Shihan Hussaini, a Chennai-based martial arts expert, 'crucified' himself in front of television cameras, after Jayalalithaa stepped down as CM last year following graft chargers against her. This graphic video shows Hussaini's aides hammering six-inch nails into his palms and feet, as the Jaya supporter writhes in pain. He managed to remain 'crucified' in protest, nails hammered into his body, for at least six minutes before he was brought coaxed to give up by supporters.
2. This man who floated in a swimming pool with a flag in his mouth to pray for her long life
M.V. Karuppiah, a 50-year-old MLA from Sholavandan, was photographed floating in the Madurai Municipal Corporation swimming pool with an AIADMK flag for several minutes to pray for Jayalalithaa's long life, earlier this year. He remained in that position for nearly an hour.
Later, he told reporters that he has been doing this since 1997 to pray for her. Following is a screenshot from Eenadu India, which reported and photographed the incident.
3. These supporters who stamped a petition with their blood demanding her release from jail
This video by TV9 has some shocking visuals of Jaya's supporters plunging needles into their fingers, squeezing blood out and then stamping their bloody fingerprints on a petition. These AIADMK supporters were demanding Jayalalithaa's release after she was arrested in a disproportionate assets case in 2014.
4. The 1000 people who tattooed Jayalalithaa's face and name on their bodies
While 668 AIADMK supporters were slated to get tattoos with Jayalalithaa's face to mark her 68th birthday in February this year, 1000 people volunteered. And when did numbers come in the way of love? You must have heard of immunisation drives, now watch this fascinating video of a mass tattooing drive on Vikantan TV here.
5. The time when Jaya supporters made couples in a mass wedding wear this head-gear
During a mass wedding organised by AIADMK supporters, 68 couples got hitched earlier this year, sporting hear-gears with a medallion-like photo of Jayalalithaa at the centre. 68 weddings were organised in Udumalaipettai in Coimbatore in February this year to mark Jayalalithaa's 68th birthday.
6. The man who declared himself dead to pray for Jayalalithaa's health and prosperity
According to various reports, a man called T Ravindran declared himself dead and the performed his own last rites in the belief that Jayalalithaa will benefit from his 'sacrifice'.
7. This man who sculpted a Jayalalithaa bust from his own frozen blood
Guess who this person is? The same person who crucified himself demanding Jayalalithaa's release. Shihan Hussaini created the bust in 2013 and told Rediff.com during an interview: "What is the most personal thing that you can gift someone? Your own blood! With what can you convey from the depth of your heart? Blood, of course."Suggest a correction