13-Year-Old Jain Girl Dies After 68 Days of Fasting

13-Year-Old Jain Girl Dies After 68 Days of Fasting

13-Year-Old Jain Girl Dies After 68 Days of Fasting
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Parents charged with culpable homicide for Jain teen’s death after a 68-day religious fast.

In a tragic incident, a 13-year-old girl in India fasted for 68 days before she died. Her death was brought about by cardiac arrest that occurred two days after she broke her fast. The girl belonged to the Jain community, one of India’s minority religions. Her parents have been accused for forcing her to fast and have been arrested.

13-Year-Old Jain Girl Dies After 68 Days of Fasting[/tweetthis]

Aradhana Samdhariya, had given up food in all forms completely for 68 days. She only consumed plain, boiled water during the fast. Her parents claim she was an extremely devout girl and was always inclined to extreme practices from her childhood. However, child rights groups in India have another theory: the girl was forced to fast to increase the family business.

The girl’s parents claim Aradhana sought to undergo diksha. During diksha the girl would become an ascetic and renounce all worldly connections, including her family. Her family says they were opposed to this idea. They told her to consider taking such an extreme step only after 16. However, she was adamant, and asked to do upvas, which meant she would fast for 68 days.

“We never expected this to happen,” her grandfather said.

Jainism is known for stressing asceticism practices. Fasting of this kind is one such example. Some members even wear masks on their mouths and noses so no living being would enter their body and perish. Jains practice a very extreme form of non-violence and self-mortification. Another Jain practice, called santhara, involves fasting unto death. The government of India, however, has banned this practice.

Child Rights groups have accused the parents of killing the child due to their superstition. The parents were allegedly advised by priest, if the girl is made to fast for 68 days, their business would increase. The family denied these allegations completely.

Indians all over the country quickly took to social media to vent out their anger at how these religious practices harm innocent lives. Aradhana’s family dressed her up in grand clothes and even took her out on a procession after her fast in praise of her devotion.

Jain leaders denied that coercion to fast was endorsed by Jainism. While they agree, fasting is important to the Jain way of life, they warned that fasting must be done only according to each person’s capacity. 


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