suttee

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suttee

(sŭ'tē`, sŭ`tē') [Skt. sati=faithful wife], former Indian funeral practice in which the widow immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre. The practice of killing a favorite wife on her husband's grave has been found in many parts of the world; it was followed by such peoples as the Thracians, the Scythians, the ancient Egyptians, the Scandinavians, the Chinese, and peoples of Oceania and Africa. Suttee was probably taken over by Hinduism from a more ancient source. Its stated purpose was to expiate the sins of both husband and wife and to ensure the couple's reunion beyond the grave, but it was encouraged by the low regard in which widows were held. The practice was not universal throughout Hindu history. It was abolished by law in British India in 1829, but isolated cases of voluntary suttee have occurred into the 20th cent. See also funeral customsfuneral customs,
rituals surrounding the death of a human being and the subsequent disposition of the corpse. Such rites may serve to mark the passage of a person from life into death, to secure the welfare of the dead, to comfort the living, and to protect the living from the
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 and suicidesuicide
[Lat.,=self-killing], the deliberate taking of one's own life. Suicide may be compulsory, prescribed by custom or enjoined by the authorities, usually as an alternative to death at the hands of others, or it may be committed for personal motives.
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.

Bibliography

See E. J. Thompson, Suttee (1928).

suttee

former practice of self-immolation by widow on husband’s pyre. [Hinduism: Brewer Dictionary, 1049]
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