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Suttee Pratha (Sati Practice) in India

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What is Sati Pratha?

Sati (also Suttee) Pratha refers the practice or act of burning of a Hindu widow on the funeral pyre of her husband in-order to show her devotion as a true wife. The woman who performs such act is called a “Sati”.

Pratha is a Hindi word meaning “Practice”, “Custom” or “Tradition”. There are laws in India that prohibit this practice.

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As Indians we are proud of the rich tradition and cultural heritage of our country. But there were some unholy practices and evil customs in the past of which we feel greatly ashamed.

Sati Practice is illegal in India

Sati Practice is completely illegal in India. The practice of suttee (or Sati) was one such unholy and cruel custom in our country which is indeed a land of strange paradoxes and in consistencies in words and practices.

This cruel and barbaric custom was denounced and abolished by Lord William Bentinck – the then Governor General of India.

H had the unflinching support of the enlightened Indian like Raja Rammohon Roy, one of the most worthy sons that India has ever produced.

Since then the Sati system existed only in relics and as some strong cases. To modern Indians it seems that this system had been most in human cruel and barbarous.

The Roop Kanwar Sati Case

But what is strange is that after a long lapse of time this cruel custom had reappeared in certain parts of this country.

On 4th September, 1987, Roop Kanwar of Deorala in Rajasthan performed the act of Sati. She was merely 18 year old young girl at the time of her death. After the event she was given the status of “Sati Mata”.

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Enlightened and cultured people of India were therefore, greatly shocked when they all on a sudden came to know from the newspapers.

The Special Court at Jaipur had accused 11 people for glorifying the act of Sati.

Abolition of Sati Practice

The British officials and the British missionaries in India first protested against Sati practice and demanded of the parliament of its abolition in the face of strong opposition of the orthodox Hindus of the time. It was Raja Rammohon Roy who first came forward for cause of these unfortunate widow and urged the liberal and for-sighted Governor-General, Lord Bentinck to stop this cruel murder of Hindu-widows.

Thus the cruel practice of ‘Sati’ was abolished by an ordinance on December 4, 1829. But it a matter of regret that this unfortunate practices is not given up everywhere. In spite of the national liberation movement and anti-caste emphasis this ugly practice continued to survive in some provinces of India and the case of Roop Kanwar’s death was one such example.

Conclusion

The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 was passed by the Government. The cruel practice of Sati was banned for ever from the Indian soil.

The democratic society of India allows women to enjoy as much right as men do. This practice of ‘Sati’ is really unthinkable. Let us stand united to stop this cruel custom following the Anti-Sati Laws passed in India.

Suggested External Readings

1. Roop Kanwar Sati Case on Wikipedia

2. Sati Practice on Wikipedia

3. Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987, on Wikipedia

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