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Sati Raises its Ugly Head in Madhya Pradesh

try to take some token, punitive action. In this case, then chief minister Digvijay Singh's Congress government imposed an 'economic embargo' for two years on the village for not preventing the sati.

Sati, the traditional Hindu practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, was prevalent among certain sects of the society in ancient India. It was deemed a great honour for women to die on the funeral pyres of their husbands and they attained the status of 'sati mata'.

"It was believed that the woman who committed sati blessed her family for seven generations after her. Temples or other religious shrines were built to honour the sati," explained astrologer S.P. Shukla.

"Initially, the custom of sati was believed to be a voluntary Hindu act in which the woman decided to end her life with her husband after his death. But there were many incidences in which the women were forced to commit sati, sometimes even dragged against her wish to the lighted pyre," he added.

Sati was banned by the British in 1829 with Indian leader Raja Rammohun Roy among the first to eliminate the barbaric practice.

Clearly, it still continues despite the rapid strides made by Indian women in many other fields.

Sati matas are worshipped to this day in various temples around the country. The Ranisatiji temple in Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu is extolled as a testament to "feminine bravery" and is frequented by thousands of worshippers.


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