14 May, 2021

Thirty Two Years After Roop Kanwar's Death, Blind Faith Still Overshadows Reason

Roop Kanwar, a teen widow who committed sati by burning herself on the pyre of her husband, has attained divinity in Rajasthan's Sikar district

Her Story
Women pray at a makeshift temple dedicated to her, in Deorala village.
Photograph by Suresh K. Pandey
Thirty Two Years After Roop Kanwar's Death, Blind Faith Still Overshadows Reason
outlookindia.com
2019-10-12T10:39:37+05:30

A red stole draped around a trident standing on a brick platform is not much of a temple. But for a group of women in bright saris, this is a pilgrimage they had to make, a trip that has brought them more than 200 km from Nagaur to pay obeisance to a woman who had attained “divinity” at this very place more than three decades ago. For many more, the makeshift shrine is a scar that cannot be erased, a painful memory of a young woman—she was just 18—carrying out the banned Hindu custom of ‘sati’ by burning herself on the pyre of her husband, cheered on by thousands of people. Roop Kanwar’s legacy lives on in this village in Rajasthan’s Sikar district: a goddess for some, the victim of an oppressive and patriarchal culture for many.

And in the 32 years since the bubbly teen widow burnt to death on September 4, 1987, the 22 police cases are all but forgotten. Only one is still...

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