Monday, December 5, 2011

Burial tombs of the Maharajas near Jaisalmer

       In Jaisalmer, a city in the very heart of the Great Indian Desert, my husband and I climbed to the top of a flight of steps where we discovered a poignant memorial; a collection of tiny handprints on stone.
Sati was once customary for widows, who, dosed with opium, were burned alive on the funeral pyres with the bodies of their dead husbands.

Sati Stones in Jaisalmer Fort
       Here in Jaisalmer, before mounting the pyre, the wives of the deceased Maharajah would dip their hands in henna and pressed them on the wall of the fort and to this day those same Sati Stones are considered sacred, and the women who died are venerated.

       Sati has been banned in India for more than 100 years, but there are hints that the practice is not dead. Occasionally widows are still urged onto cremation pyres in some rural villages.

       Many were the sacrifices of the past in this desert city. When conquering invaders stormed the fort and death for the defending warriors was imminent, the fighting men, dressed in orange robes, courageously left the fort to face their enemies and horrific mutilation. Then, rather than be ravished and carried off by the enemy, their women, in full bridal attire accompanied by their children, jumped from the towering fort walls.
Photos copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Monday, 5th December, 1011.


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