Customs and Rituals

What is the practice known as sati?

The word sati originally referred to a “woman of virtue,” a reference to a newly widowed individual who joined her husband in death by throwing herself on his funeral pyre. The name comes from Shiva’s wife Sati, who committed suicide after her father insulted her new husband. Ritual suicide by widows spread through medieval times and continued well into the early modern era. Even after the practice was outlawed in 1829, it continued in many villages. Incidents of sati still occasionally make headlines, but increasing social action on behalf of women’s rights continues to improve the situation all over India.


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