Sati is the Indian funerary ritual that involves a bride immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. Here are some facts about this practice;
1) Sati has been banned several times in Indian history. The last ban was put in place by the British in 1829.
2) The practice may have begun as a way for husbands to discourage wives from poisoning their husbands.
3) The precursor to sati was known as Anumarana, a funerary right where men, women or children of the deceased would commit suicide as an act of loyalty.
4) Since the practice still continues in some isolated communities in India, laws have been recently passed making it illegal to even view a sati event.
5) India has a special governmental commission to investigate and prevent sati. They also passed the Prevention of Sati Act which makes it illegal to glorify the practice or speak positively about it.
6) In most cases that people have observed the ritual, the woman appears to voluntarily throw herself on the pyre.
7) Symbolic sati is practiced in some Hindu communities. In this version, the woman lies next to her husband's form, then he is burned, but she lives.
8) It is hard to figure out how many people died as a result, but records do exist. In Bengal, record exists that say between 1813 and 1828 8,135 brides immolated.