The death of a 13-year-old girl after 68 days of fasting should have been a tragedy, but instead it was cause for celebration in the Jain community in Hyderabad, with the deceased being hailed as "bal tapasvi."
According to local reports, Aradhana, a student of class VIII, was made to give up school and sit on fast, a jain ritual during the holy period of "chaumasa." She suffered a cardiac arrest two days after she broke her fast, and died last week.
NDTV reported that at least 600 people attended Aradhana's funeral hailing her as a 'bal tapasvi'. The funeral procession was called a 'shobha yatra' - a mark of celebration.
NDTV further reported that Telangana minister from Secunderabad area, Padma Rao Goud, was the chief guest at grand event for 'Paarana', which is the completion of fast, and Zaheerabad lawmaker BB Patil is also seen in the photos of the event.
Santhara, the Jain ritual of fasting onto death, is generally observed by the elderly who are seeking renunciation, or those who are seriously ill. Lata Jain, a member of the community, who objected to a minor taking on this fast, told NDTV, "This is suicide if not murder."
Activists are calling for a police to register a case against the Aradhana's family.
The Times of India reported that Aradhana's father, Laxmichand Sansadiya, had suffered a huge loss in his jewellery business, and she was made to fast in order to bring good luck to her family.
"We did not hide anything. Everyone knew Aradhana was fasting. They came and took selfies with her. Now some people are pointing fingers at us for allowing her to fast for 68 days," Aradhana's grandfather, Manekchand Samdhariya told NDTV.