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Words in the News
Wednesday 07 August 2002
Vocabulary from the news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

Indian woman commits sati suicide
Summary: A woman has burned herself alive on the funeral pyre of her dead husband in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, committing the sacred but outlawed Hindu practice of 'sati'. This report from: Adam Mynott
The News Listen  
  Police in the Panna district of Madhya Pradesh had been alerted that a woman was going to commit sati. Two officers hurried to the village of Tamoli Patna to try to intervene but were beaten back by villagers with stones. The sixty-five-year-old woman, Kuttu Bai, sat on the funeral pyre with the head of her dead husband on her lap.

According to reports, four thousand villagers watched her being burned alive, committing the sacred Hindu practice of sati, which was outlawed a hundred and seventy-three years ago under British rule in India. Hindu tradition says that the dead woman becomes a goddess and her family will be blessed for seven generations.

Cases of sati are very rare; the last high-profile incident was in 1987 in Rajasthan, when an eighteen-year-old woman was burned to death. There was a huge controversy and a new law was enacted. Now, anyone helping someone to commit sati faces the death penalty.

After someone has committed sati the scene of the suicide becomes a revered holy place, but the Madhya Pradesh home minister, Mahendra Boud, has ordered that a shrine should not be built in Tamoli Patna and police have surrounded the village to prevent people from visiting the site of the funeral pyre. Women's groups in India have called for the arrest of people in the village who allowed the sati to go ahead.

Adam Mynott, BBC, Delhi

The Words Listen
warned or made fully aware of something

to do something that cannot be changed

  funeral pyre
a large pile of wood upon which a body is burned as part of a religious service


made illegal

  high-profile incident
well publicised and important event

  huge controversy
very big disagreement or row

the act of killing yourself

a holy building


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