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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 10:59 GMT
Finger sacrifice for top politician
Sampath Kumar
BBC correspondent in Madras

A man in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has chopped off one of his fingers as an offering for the state's chief minister, Jayalalitha.

The man, Gunasekaran, made his offering at a Hindu temple seeking long life for Jayalalitha, his favourite leader.

Jayalalitha asked supporters not to be extravagant
The incident took place on Monday when she was celebrating her 55th birthday.

This year celebrations marking the event were relatively modest. The usual public rallies and posters were missing.

This followed an appeal by Ms Jayalalitha for her supporters not to be extravagant in view of a severe drought in the state.

But Gunasekaran, who hails from a village near the district of Vellore, chose to greet his favourite leader in a different style.

He cut off one of his fingers and dropped it in an offering box at a temple dedicated to Hindu god Ayyappa.

Posh hospital

The bizarre offering came with a prayer seeking a long life for his leader.

When informed of the incident, Ms Jayalalitha ordered officials to arrange treatment for Gunasekaran.

He was taken to a posh private hospital in Madras.

Ms Jayalalitha said her party, the AIADMK, would bear all the expenses for Gunasekaran's treatment.

She later appealed to her supporters not to demonstrate affection by inflicting injury on to themselves.

Tongue out

Such incidents are not rare in Tamil Nadu where politicians and film stars enjoy a die-hard fan following.

Last year, another supporter of Ms Jayalalitha cut off his tongue and offered it at the famous Tirupati temple.

When the founder of the AIADMK, MG Ramachandran fell sick some years ago, hundreds of his fans travelled several miles to offer prayers at a temple.

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