Indian practice whereby a widow burns herself to death either on the funeral pyre of her husband or soon after his death. The custom may be rooted in ancient beliefs that a husband needed his companions in the afterlife, though opponents point to it as an indication of a value system deeply hostile to women. Developed by the 4th century BC, it became widespread in the 17th–18th centuries but was banned in British India in 1829. Frequent instances of suttee continued to occur for many years thereafter, and occasional instances in remote areas are still reported today.
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