People defy ban to offer prayers at sati site

October 13th, 2008 - 3:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Oct 13 (IANS) Dozens of people in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur district Monday offered prayers at the site where a woman committed ’sati’ by jumping onto her husband’s funeral pyre despite a ban imposed by the police on the worship of the woman.On Saturday, Lalmati Verma, 71, jumped onto her husband’s funeral pyre after all the villagers had left the site on the bank at the confluence of two rivers - Mahanadi and Shivnath - in Chechar village, about 125 km from here.

As the news of her having committed sati spread, people carrying coconut, sweets and incense sticks began flocking to the site. Additional police personnel have been deployed in the village, which has a population of about 1,000, to impose a ban on the worship.

“Police have banned the worship of the woman as we see it as an act of glorification of the banned Hindu custom,” Amit Kumar, Raipur district superintendent of police, told IANS.

“It’s hard to stop the people from worshipping the woman, especially when a sati temple is already existing close to the site. The temple is dedicated to a woman of the same village who committed sati nearly four decades ago,” a police official said on condition of anonymity.

Lalmati had come for the funeral of her husband Shivnandan Verma, 80, dressed in a bridal sari. Before committing suicide, she made a couple of rounds of the pyre holding a coconut and a copy of the Ramayana.

Police came to know about the incident late Saturday night. A first information report (FIR) was lodged Sunday after a local police team visited the sati site and interrogated dozens of villagers.

Police interrogated dozens of villagers throughout Sunday to ascertain whether the woman, who belonged to the Kurmi caste that is categorised under the Other Backward Classes (OBC), was incited either by her relatives or villagers to commit sati.

On Monday, police registered a case against seven close relatives of the deceased woman under the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act.

“The woman could definitely have been stopped by the relatives as they had prior idea that she was planning to commit suicide,” Amit Kumar said.

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