HYDERABAD,INDIA .A 13-year-old girl in Hyderabad died after fasting for 68 days as per Jain rituals during the holy period of ‘Chaumasa’.
Aradhana, a class 8 student, was was admitted to the hospital just two days after completing her fast where she died of cardiac arrest, the family said.
At least 600 people attended Aradhana’s funeral hailing her as a ‘bal tapasvi’. The funeral procession was called a ‘shobha yatra’ – a mark of celebration.
Aradhana’s family runs a jewellery business and has a shop in the Pot Bazaar area of Secunderabad. Questions are being raised why they allowed her to give up school and sit on a fast.
”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.
Sources close to the family said Aradhana had earlier undertaken a similar fast for 41 days and 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.
According to Jain religious leaders, Santhara is usually meant for elderly people, who have lived their life and want renunciation.
”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 told the Source
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.