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Fasting to death Santhara or Sallenkhana is a procedure in which a Jain stops eating with the intention of preparing for death. This is different from suicide as it is not taken in passionate mood of anger, deceit or other emotions, but is undertaken only when the body is no longer capable of serving its owner as a instrument of sprituality and when inevitability of death is a matter of undisputed certainty. The intention is to purify the body, and remove all thought of the physical things from the mind. As well as giving up food and water, the ascetic abandons all desires and dislikes so that they can concentrate exclusively on the spiritual as they approach death. The human rights debate There is an ongoing debate in India about whether santhara has any place in modern society. The case of 93-year-old Keila Devi Hirawat alerted the world's media to the debate. Keila Devi undertook santhara early in September 2006. Her family did not oppose her actions. I'm very happy, in fact everyone in the family is very happy... Santhara is a divine call which not everyone is blessed with. Even great holy men are not blessed with this opportunity. She is blessed and very lucky to have undertaken santhara. She has brought name and fame to our family. Nirmala Hiravat, daughter-in-law of Keila Devi Our entire community is celebrating. When my grandmother passes away, we will celebrate by singing religious songs. No one will take it as a sad moment; it is considered a wonderful occasion. Sudhir Hiravat, grandson of Keila Devi Those who undertake santhara are revered by fellow Jains and their deaths are celebrated publicly. Local newspapers praise them and families often take out full page advertisements of the practice. Santhara is seen as the ultimate way to expunge all sins and karma, liberating the soul from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. In September 2006 five people died after undertaking santhara. Experts estimate that over 200 people die annually across India from such fasts. Human rights organisations say santhara is comparable to suicide and euthanasia and must not be allowed to continue. In India euthanasia is banned and suicide is a crime. People who try to kill themselves are jailed and people who help them in the act are charged with abetting a suicide. If there is a hunger strike and someone fasts to the point of danger, the police are allowed to force-feed the person and charge them with a criminal offence. Santhara cannot be termed as suicide... the person [undertakes] santhara with an open mind and conscious thought, everything is known to the people and it is undertaken by people who have a pure soul. This is nothing but faith in our religion and anything which is a part of ongoing customs, traditions and rituals is protected by the constitutional guarantees. Justice Pana Chand Jain, a spokesperson of the Jain community in Rajasthan It is not an act of suicide, it is an act of rational thinking and courage. Sadhvi Shubhankar, Jain priest But opponents say santhara is a fundamental breach of Article 21 of the Indian constitution, which guarantees the right to life - but not death. After human rights activists filed a writ in the Rajasthan high court, the Jain community faced a court notice asking them to answer the allegations. Old people usually resort to santhara, it's during this stage when they need more love, care and attention. If a person undertakes santhara even on his own, the members of the family are duty bound to stop them. They just can't let a suffering person die without painkillers or medical assistance; even the food and water is stopped. We consider this inhuman. Madhav Mitra, counsel for the anti-santhara petition Justice Pana Chand Jain says that, unlike suicide or euthanasia, those choosing santhara have ample time to reconsider their position and are free to eat at any time. Critics disagree and say that once a fast is declared it's impossible for someone to change their mind, because of family pressure and the risk of shame. Our constitution says that every person living in India has a right to live. If I have a right to live then I have a corresponding right not to live - that is, to die... The goal is to live a dignified life. It is my right, it is my body. It is not the property of the state. Justice Pana Chand Jain This fasting is not to die, but a festival to face death. She is not trying to kill herself because that is considered sinful in our religion. She is only cleansing her soul. This is our festival. Sudhir Hiravat, grandson of Keila Devi

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1 Sara Di Diego = "This literally means "to properly thin out".  It is only allowed if someone has an incurable disease, has a disability, or is about to die.Work Cited:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santhara"
2 Enakshi Ganguly = "A Treasure Trove of Learning about Jainism!"
3 Sara Di Diego = "Santhara is usually used far more by women than by men.  Some people think that is because widows and elderly women are forced to participate, but those are just rare cases.Work Cited:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santhara"
4 Enakshi Ganguly = "The reason why more women than men do it is perhaps because of the overarching theme of women, homemakers, having the resources (time, rest, space) to fulfill these duties. Even in Islam, during the pre-colonial era of Mughals & Sultanates, women made more trips to Mecca and fulfilled Islamic duties than their male counterparts who were fulfilling their roles as political/social leaders. This is the same in Hinduism, where women were more involved with temple activities, donated more money than their men, and upheld ties between politics and religiosity. Of course, this does not negate that womyn have not been forced into activities, but it does create a more textured perspective on these duties and does not categorize them as 'oppressive', effectively taking away the agency of these womyn."
5 Enakshi Ganguly = "An article discussing the controversy"
6 Sara Di Diego = "Because Santhara is part of the Jain religion, and thus protected in the name of religious freedom, it is still legal in India.Work Cited:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santhara"