A sea of humanity descended on Chennai to bid a tearful farewell to Dravidian legend and five-time chief minister M Karunanidhi, who was buried on the historic Marina Beach next to the resting place of his political mentor C N Annadurai.

Karunanidhi’s body, in his trademark white shirt and dhoti, dark glasses and signature yellow shawl, which was placed inside a sandalwood coffin, was lowered into the ground at around 7 pm. The Dravidian tradition that claims to have nothing to do with Hindu customs, mandates that a person is buried after death with sandalwood and rose water.

The DMK chief’s son and political successor M K Stalin and family members cried inconsolably and paid their last respects to Karunanidhi thrice at the burial site – immediately after the body was taken out of the glass coffin, after it was placed inside the sandalwood coffin and after the casket was lowered into the ground.

Karunanidhi’s mortal remains were kept at Rajaji Hall, where the bodies of M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa were also kept for public viewing, for nearly 12 hours to enable the cadre and leaders to pay their respects. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and a host of leaders from across the political spectrum flew to Chennai and paid their last respects.

As former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu looked on, Karunanidhi was given a burial, according to the Dravidian customs, with full military honours. As a military band played the Last Post, the former chief minister was given a 21- gun salute.

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