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THIS DAY IN HISTORY

4 - December – 1829:   Britain abolished "sati" in India (widow burning herself to death on her husband's funeral pyre).

  • Sati, or Suttee, is derived from the name of the goddess Sati, who immolated herself because she was unable to bear her father Daksha's humiliation towards her husband Shiva.
  • Bengal Sati Regulation which banned the Sati practice in all jurisdictions of British India was passed on December 4, 1829, by the then Governor-General Lord William Bentinck.
  • In the 16th century, Humayun was the first to try a royal agreement against the practice. Akbar was next to issue official orders prohibiting Sati and since then it was done voluntarily by women.
  • It was first banned in 1515 by Portuguese in Goa and then was by Dutch in Chinsura and French in Pondicherry.

About Lord William Bentinck

  • He served as Governor-General of India between 1828 to 1835.
  • His tenure is known for social reforms such as
    • Abolition of Sati in 1829, Suppression of Thugi, and Suppression of Infanticide etc. 
    • English was introduced as a medium of higher education on the advice of his council member, Thomas Babington Macaulay.
    • A pact with Maharaja Ranjit Singh was made.
    • Charter act 1833 was passed by which East India Company ceased to be a trading company.

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