HYDERABAD: A 13-year-old girl in Hyderabad died last week after fasting for 68 days as per Jain rituals during their holy period of ‘Chaumasa‘.
Aradhana, a class 8 student at a school in Hyderabad, had observed 68-days fast and just two days after opening her fast she was admitted to a hospital where she died of cardiac arrest, the family claims.
At least 600 people attended Aradhana’s funeral calling her a ‘bal tapasvi‘. The funeral procession was called a ‘shobha yatra‘ – a mark of celebration.
Those known to the family say the girl had earlier also undertaken a similar fast for 41 days and survived.
”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.
Aradhana’s family jewellery business. They have a shop in the Pot Bazaar area of Secunderabad. The questions were being raised by some over why the girl was allowed to even give up school to sit on a fast.
”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.
Newspaper advertisements issued after the girl completed 68-days of fasting show Telangana minister from Secunderabad area, Padma Rao Goud, was the chief guest at grand event for ‘Paarana‘- the completion of fast. Zaheerabad MP BB Patil is also seen in the photos of the event.
The family says it was two days after formally giving up the fast that Aradhana collapsed and was taken to KIMS hospital, where she died due to cardiac arrest.
Maharasa Ravinder Muniji of Kachiguda Sthanak says Santhara is usually meant for elderly people, who have lived their lived 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,” he told.
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