A 13-year-old girl in Hyderabad, India, has died after undertaking a 68-day-long Jainism fast. Jainism is one of the world’s most ancient religions and has its roots in India.
It is reported that Aradhana Samdariya was surviving on boiled water for the duration of her fast. After ending her fast, she died just two days later. Police are now investigating Aradhana’s parents after a child rights organisation filed a complaint. However her parents, jewellers Laxmi Chand and Manshi Samdariya, insist she willingly partook in the fast.
According to a spokesperson, “The parents…have been booked under culpable homicide and Juvenile Justice Act.”
Social media has since exploded over news of the death with many social activists rejecting the parent’s claim that Arandhana volunteered for the fast. Activist Achyut Rao told BBC Hindi:
“The entire nation should be ashamed that such a practice still exists. Her father’s guru advised the family that if she fasted for 68 days, his business would be profitable,”
“The girl was made to drink only water from sunrise to sunset. There was no salt or lemon or anything else.”
This isn’t the first time the ancient religion of Jainism has come under fire for its harmful practises. Controversy periodically sparks over the ‘santhara,’ a fast in which the Jain forgoes food and drink in preparation for death.