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International Women’s Day-poem by Rashme Sehgal

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Roop Kanwar – Sati 1989

By  Rashme Sehgal

A widow is made to dress in her bridal finery

To take a last walk

From her house to the blazing pyre

Twelve steps

Iis all the allowance she is given

To move from one abyss to another

Twelve steps

To transform herself into a column of fire.

A group of women chanting mantras

Lead her up to the blazing pyre

Made sacred by myrrh and frankincense

All through her life she walked

One step behind her husband

Now she will walk behind these women

Walk into this raging fire

To be transformed into dry ash.

Her soul’s benediction will purify this ash

To be carried from home to home

As sanctified bread

Twelve steps is all the allowance

She has been given

To transform herself into

A column of raging fire.

( The Roop Kanwar Sati was a pivotal moment for women in India. Her sati made us all hang our heads in shame)

( Rashme Sehgal is an independent senior journalist, writer and poet)

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