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The abolished 'Sati Pratha': Lesser-known facts on the banned practice

The Bengal Sati Regulation which banned the Sati practice in all jurisdictions of British India was passed on December 4, 1829 by the then Governor-General Lord William Bentinck. The regulation described the practice of Sati as revolting to the feelings of human nature.


On the 186th anniversary of the Bengal Sati Regulation, here is all you need you need to know about the practice of Sati and facts relating to the custom:
Who is a Sati and what is Sati custom?
Sati, also spelled as Suttee, is a practice among Hindu communities
where a recently widowed woman, either voluntarily or by force, immolates herself on her deceased husband's pyre
The woman who immolates herself is, hence, called a Sati which is also interpreted as a 'chaste woman' or a 'good and devoted wife'
There have been many instances of how the widows were shunned in India and therefore, the
only solution for a life without husband was to practice Sati as it was considered to be the highest expression of wifely devotion to a dead husband.
Some lesser-known facts on the Sati practice:
Sati, or Suttee, is derived from the name of the goddess Sati, who immolated herself because she was unable to bear her father Daksha's humiliation towards her husband Shiva
Sati was regarded as a barbaric practice by the Islamic rulers of the Mughal period
In the 16th century, Humayun was the first to try a royal agreement against the practice. Akbar was next to issue official orders prohibiting Sati and since then it was done voluntarily by women. He also issued orders that no woman could commit Sati without a specific permission from his chief police officers
Akbar had also instructed the officers to delay the woman's decision for as long as possible
Many Hindu scholars have argued against Sati, calling it as 'suicide, and...a pointless and futile act'
By the end of the 18th century, the practice had been banned in territories held by some European powers
The Portuguese banned the practice in Goa by 1515
The Dutch and the French banned it in Hugli-Chunchura (then Chinsurah) and Pondicherry
Sati has occurred in some rural areas of India in the 21st century
According to some official reports, around 30 cases of Sati, from 1943 to 1987, were documented in India
The practice still occurs today in some parts of India and is still regarded by some as the ultimate form of womanly devotion and sacrifice.



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