HYDERABAD: A 13-year-old girl in Hyderabad died last week after fasting for sixty-eight days as per Jain rituals throughout their period of ‘Chaumasa’.
Aradhana, a class 8 student at school in Hyderabad, had observed 68-days fast two days after opening her fast she was admitted to a hospital where the girl died of stroke, the family claims.
At least 600 people attended Aradhana’s funeral calling her a ‘bal tapasvi’. The funeral service procession was known as ‘shobha yatra’ – a mark of celebration.All those known to the family the girl had prior 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 is into jewellery business. There is a shop in the Pot Bazaar area of Secunderabad. The questions were being raised by some over why the girl 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. Pictures available to media , show weak-looking Aradhana sitting all dressed up like a bride, surrounded by several others, on a grand chariot.
Newspaper advertisements released after the girl completed 68-days of fasting show Telangana minister from Secunderabad area, Padma Rao Goud, was the chief guests at grand event for ‘Paarana’- the completion of fast. Zaheerabad MP BB Patil is also seen in the (photographs) 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 Media .The Samdhariya home has a huge photograph of the young Aradhana, decked out like an goddess and the number of appreciative plaques she acquired received for her severe penance.
Child rights activist Shanta Sinha says a police case must be registered and the child rights commission must take cognizance. ”A minor is not deemed to have a voluntary will adopt decisions that can risk their life. Religious frontrunners also need to re-look at what should be allowed and what is not. ”