Family members of Kanchan Devi Baid praying Photo/ANI.
Family members of Kanchan Devi Baid praying Photo/ANI.

82-year-old Gujarat woman ready to embrace death, begins 'Santhara'

ANI | Updated: May 16, 2019 13:37 IST

Surat (Gujarat) [India], May 16 (ANI): Kanchan Devi Baid, an 82-year-old Jain woman, has decided to embrace death by opting for the practise of 'Santhara'.
Santhara is a practice by which an individual embraces death by not eating and drinking water. This practice is regarded as a festival of death by the members of the Jain community, and the 'tapasvis' are hailed for their penance.
Baid is willing to end her life and hence, began fasting on May 11, her family said.
Speaking to ANI, Baid's granddaughter Nivedita Navlakkha said, "She (Baid) is doing 'Santhara' which is a part of our culture. This is not new for us as I have heard about the elders of our family doing this. However, when I see this happening in front of our eyes, it is not easy to accept. We are happy as she will attain 'moksha' (salvation)."
She went on to explain that Santhara, which is an essential part of Jain community's belief and culture, is based on the philosophy that an individual's soul leaves the body willfully, which becomes a burden at old age.
"When death is near, we embrace it by letting our soul leave our body. This is happening for generations together, we have followed this practice as taught to us by our elders," Baid's son Puspraj Sankhla said.
"We want to live a life following beliefs and practices of Jainism. In our religion, there is a belief of 'Tapasya'. We only drink water during 'Tapasya' that goes on for one month. But the biggest 'Tapasya' is 'Santhara'...When a person feels that no medicine is working to heal her/him from disease and death is near, we do 'Santhara'," he added.
Meanwhile, Baid's brother Deepchand Sankhla said two of his elder siblings had undertaken Santhara. (ANI)