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The Sati System .

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Account of Pietro Della Valle

Italian Traveler Pietro Della Valle (1586-1652) has documented the Sati ritual that he witnessed in the town of Ikkeri (in present day Karnataka state) in November of 1623. "There was a musical band in front of the procession. The widow was mounted on a horse. She was holding a lemon in her right hand and a mirror in her left. She was constantly making sure her bridal make-up was in tact. An umbrella was held to protect her from the sun. The widow was not in mourning at all. And instead looked as if she was anxious to join her husband. The people in the procession sang her glories and admired her sacrifice. While the system of Sati is a cruel one, the courage of the women is admirable. I am going to visit her on the day of the Sati and pay my respects to her eternal love."

Five days later, on the day of Sati, Pietro Della visited the widow. She belonged to the Terlenga (Telugu?) community and her name was Giyakkamma. She was wearing white and was decorated with flowers and jewelry. She rose from her rituals and spoke to Pietro. She told him she considered the death smaller than a mustard seed and was immolating herself voluntarily. She said she had two children, but since there were two other wives of the husband, they would be well cared for. Pietro Della wondered why any of the other wives did not volunteer in spite of their being elder, and was told that a woman goes Sati only by the wish of God. She explained to Pietro Della the meaning of various rituals that were going on.

See Also:


  • Nagegowda H. L., Pravasi kanda India (India through the eyes of foreign travelers), Vol 1-4, 1966-1972
  • Kamat Jyotsna,  Mahile - Ondu Adhyayana (Studies in Womanhood), Navakarnataka, 1999

The Suti Tradition
The Sati System

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Sitas Trial by FireA Woman Goes SatiWoman being Paraded before SuicideA Memorial for a Brave Lady
Memorial to a Mahasati Hero-Stone Depicting Fierce BattleDecorated Idols of SatisA Mahasati Sculpture

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