The ritual involves voluntarily embracing death through meditation and gradually reducing one’s food and water intake.

Jain woman in Tamil Nadu embraces death after Santhara likely the first woman in the state
news Religion Friday, November 06, 2015 - 13:40

On November 5, an 83-year old woman embraced death 41 days after she took to the Jain practice of Santhara. The woman, hailing from Tiruvannamalai district in Tamil Nadu, is likely to be the first woman in Tamil Nadu to do so.

The ritual involves voluntarily embracing death through meditation and gradually reducing one’s food and water intake. Marudevi Ammal took her vow inside the Jain temple of Thensenthamangalam in September.

Her family said that she was in a meditative stage for the past several days.

"She was having only half-a-cup of tea and half-a-cup of water for the first 30 days of her fast and for the last 12 days she did not take anything,” her son Elangovan told  The Hindu.

K Ajithadoss, a Chennai based scholar who said that this incident is perhaps the first of its kind for a woman in the state told TOI, “She will be treated as a female ascetic as per the Jain agamas. It's a special consideration given to one who embraced death by santhara,“ 

Over the fast period more than 10,000 people visited Ammal to seek her blessings as both Swethambara and Digambara Jain sects believe this to be an act of pious.

According to Elangovan, a man from the state had performed this ritual 60 years ago and she is the first since then.

Earlier on October 29, a 92-year-old Jain female priest died observing a fast more than two weeks in Jodhpur.

The Supreme Court had stayed the order of a Rajasthan High Court which had declared the religious practice to be offensive on August 31. You can read about the debate on Santhara here.

Here is a short video of her in September, when she took to Santhara

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