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Home » India » Religion gone overboard? 13-year-old dies after fasting for 68 days

Religion gone overboard? 13-year-old dies after fasting for 68 days

By Newsd
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In a case of traditions taking the better of logic, a 13-year-old girl in Hyderabad died last week after fasting for 68 days in a Jain ritual observed during the holy period of ‘Chaumasa‘.

Named Aradhana, the girl was a student of class 8 and was admitted to the hospital just two days after she completed her fast where she died of cardiac arrest. What is more shocking is the fact that more than 600 people attended her funeral hailing her as a ‘bal tapasvi‘. The funeral procession was called a ‘shobha yatra‘ – a mark of celebration.

Belonging to businessman family from Secunderabad,  she had reportedly taken a 41 day fast earlier too and had survived. “We did not hide anything. Everyone knew Aradhana was fasting. They came and took selfies with her. Now some people are pointing fingers at us for allowing her to fast for 68 days,” Aradhana’s grandfather, Manekchand Samdhariya said.

”It has been a practice for people to undertake severe penance when they give up even food and water. They are glorified, lauded and honoured at community meetings by the religious elders. They are also showered with gifts. But in this case it was a minor and that is my objection,” said Lata Jain, a member of the community. ”This is suicide if not murder,” she added.

Pictures of her sitting frailly in a grand chariot and dressed up like a bride have been doing rounds and  newspaper advertisements issued after the girl completed the nearly 10-week-long fast show Telangana minister from Secunderabad area, Padma Rao Goud, was the chief guest at grand event for ‘Paarana’- the completion of fast. Zaheerabad lawmaker BB Patil is also seen in the photos of the event.

Santhara is usually meant for elderly people, who have lived their life and want renunciation said Jain religious leaders. ”There should never be any element of force or coercion in tapasya or fasting. This was a tragedy and we must learn our lessons from it,” Maharasa Ravinder Muniji of Kachiguda Sthanak said.  Child rights activist Shanta Sinha says a police case must be registered and the child rights commission must take action.

”A minor is not deemed to have a voluntary will to take decisions that can endanger their life. Religious leaders also need to re-look at what should be allowed and what is not,” she said.

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