Special prayers and distribution of garments and utensils to the poor marked the birthday of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on 24 February (Monday).

Jayalalitha has turned 66. The AIADMK general secretary announced the party's candidates for the 40 Lok Sabha seats - 39 in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry.

As usual, the party workers cut a 66-kg cake on the occasion, at the headquarters in Chennai. Party workers distributed sweets to commemorate their leader's birthday.

Fondly called "Amma" and "Puratchi Thalaivi" (revolutionary leader) by her admirers in TN, Jayalalitha was a leading actress of south Indian cinema in yesteryears. She has acted with southern veterans MGR, NTR, ANR, Shivaji Ganeshan and even Shoban Babu, whose pairing was very popular at one stage in Tollywood. 

She was born in Karnataka's Mandya district and educated in Bangalore and Chennai, before getting into films.  

Jayalalitha started her political career as a Rajya Sabha MP after being introduced to politics by MGR. She later consolidated her position in the party and went on to capture power for the first time in 1991. 

Special poojas were performed to presiding deities at the Manakula Vinayakar and Sithananda Swamigal temples, to seek the blessings of the Almighty for the leader's long life. Special prayers were also held at a number of churches and mosques.

Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, ministers and alliance party leaders, besides many members of the tinsel town, greeted Jayalalitha on the occasion, PTI reported. 

Hoping to sweep majority seats in the next Lok Sabha polls, Jayalalithaa has ambitious plans to play a pivotal role at the Centre. In that direction, she has recently announced that AIADMK will enter into an alliance with CPI (M) for the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.