Jain Rally to protest Ban on 'Santhara'

Posted: 25.08.2015

The Times Of India


TNN | Aug 24, 2015, 05.21 AM IST

Jain practice of Santhara illegal: Rajasthan HCKOLKATA: Close on the heels of the Rajasthan high court terming 'Santhara', the Jain ritual of systematic fasting to death, an offence, community members in Kolkata announced being part of a nationwide protest with a silent rally on Monday. 

"The Jain community is unhappy with the recent decision of the Rajastha HC that equaled Santhara to suicide and declared it as an offence. We would like to clarify that 'Santhara' is a highly-respected practice among the members of the Jain community. The word 'Sallekhana' consists of two words - 'sal' that means 'properly' and 'lekhana' meaning to 'thin out'. It is prescribed both for householders as well as ascetics. 'Sallekhana' is only allowed when a person is suffering from some incurable disease of great disability or when a person is nearing his end. Due to the prolonged nature of 'Sallekhana', the individual is given ample time to reflect on his or her life," said a statement by the West Bengal Jain Samaj. 

On Monday at 12.30 pm, about 15,000 community members are expected to assemble at the Jain Temple at Burrabazar and the silent rally will cover M G Road, Brabourne Road, Bentick Street and end at the Y-channel in Esplanade, said Sanjay Kala, member of the Jain Samaj. Narayan Jain, former member of West Bengal minorities commission, said this was part of a nationwide protest. Across Bengal, separate rallies will be brought out at Bandel, Kolaghat, Durgapur and Murshidabad on Monday afternoon. In Kolkata, a 10-member team will submit a deputation against the HC order to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. "This is not a state government matter, so we need to seek the Governor's intervention. Papers are being prepared and we will soon move the Supreme Court as well," added Narayan Jain. 

Justice B L Jain, former Calcutta high court judge, pointed out that 'Santhara' is a voluntary act of rational thinking and marks the beginning of the journey of "understanding the painful and flawed nature of earthly existence". He argued that the ritual was not at all comparable with suicide. The centuries-old ritual has been in the eye of a storm since 2006 after a PIL was filed against it.

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