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What Is Sati?

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Definition:

Sati or suttee is the ancient Indian practice of burning a widow on her husband's funeral pyre, or burying her alive in his grave. This practice is associated with Hindu traditions.

According to custom, sati was supposed to be voluntary, and often it was seen as the proper final act of a marriage. However, many accounts exist of women who were forced to go through with the rite. They may have been drugged, or tied up before being placed on the pyre or into the grave.

In addition, strong societal pressure was exerted on women to accept sati, particularly if they had no surviving children to support them. A widow had no social standing in traditional society, and was considered a drag on resources.

During the colonial period, Britain tried to stamp out the practice of sati. It still occurs from time to time, however, particularly in rural areas of Rajastan.

The term "sati" can also apply to the widow who commits the act. The word "sati" comes from the feminine present participle of the Sanskrit word asti, meaning "she is true / pure."

Pronunciation: "suh-TEE" or "SUHT-ee"
Alternate Spellings: suttee
Examples:

"In 1987, a Rajput man was arrested after the sati death of his daughter-in-law, Roop Kunwar, who was just 18 years old."

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