Patna, Dec 15: A 65-year-old woman allegedly committed 'sati' by jumping into the funeral pyre of her husband in a village in Bihar's Saharsa district.
Saharsa Superintendent of Police Pankaj Sinha said it happened at Parminia village under Kahra block in the district, around 250 km from the state capital, and the deceased woman has been identified Dahwa Devi.
"Her husband Charitra Yadav (70) had been suffering from cancer for a long time. He died yesterday. His children and relatives arrived in the afternoon and took his body for cremation near a temple in the village," the SP said.
The last rites got over by evening and the group of people returned and was taking bath near a village borewell. The deceased woman and her daughter-in-law had remained at their home as per the custom.
Meanwhile, Yadav's son Ramesh Mandal started searching for his mother so that she could also take a bath, but she was nowhere to be found. Somebody told the grieving family that Devi was seen going towards the place where Yadav was cremated.
"Mandal and other family members ran towards the place and saw that Devi had already jumped into the funeral pyre and died. They then performed her last rites too in the same pyre," Sinha said.
The SP, who had rushed to the village to investigate the incident, said funeral pyres in Saharsa area are traditionally made of timber, sandalwood, cow-dung cakes and other combustible materials. They on an average are around four feet high and burn for a long time. The pyre into which Devi jumped had much fire when the incident happened.
The SP said the entire incident happened within a span of 30 minutes after Yadav's cremation got over and the family members returned to take bath.
"We have probed the incident and also video recorded the statements of the villagers. They all have corroborated the incident. Devi was grieving, but otherwise, was mentally sound. We have taken it as suicide and not filed a case in the matter," the SP said.
'Sati' refers to a funeral ritual in which a recently widowed woman immolates herself on the husband's funeral pyre.
The practice was banned by a law passed by William Bentick, the Governor of Bengal in 1829 in Bengal Presidency, which was later extended in 1830 to Madras and Bombay Presidencies.