Cultural Relativism - Essay Example

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Cultural Relativism

Suttee is a Hindu funeral custom in which the widow becomes a sacrifice and immolated alive with her husband on the latter's funeral pyre. This act is said to be voluntarily done by the widow as an act of utmost devoutness. However, suttee is believed to have been often forced on the widow by prevailing social pressures, sometimes to the extent of using drugs. It should be noted that many Indian communities, which includes the Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, explicitly prohibit the practice of suttee. Even the Tantras strictly condemn the act. In some Hindu societies, specifically the Rajputs and other geographic regions such as Rajasthan, Bengal and parts of the Gangetic plain in India, it is believed that performing suttee cleansed a couple of all sins, warranted salvation and ensured their reunion in the afterlife.

Continuing incidence of suttee was rumored to have still existed in rural areas even in the 20th century. In one reported incident in 1988, Roop Kanwar, a childless 19-year old housewife, was immolated on her husband's pyre in Deorala, a Rajasthans village. This event became highly controversial and set modern Indian ideology against the traditional one. ...Show more


This paper discusses the attitude towards the cultural practice of one society that is far different from one’s own. Moreover, this paper points out the universality of cultural principles, i.e. how some sound practices of one society can be adopted by others…
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