Supported by the College of the Humanities and the Edgar and Dorothy Davidson Fund in Religious Studies, attend a screening of SANTHARA, an award-winning documentary by Shekhar Hattangadi, a Mumbai, India-based columnist, law professor, and film-maker. Hattangadi’s interest in the interface between secular law and religious ritual has resulted in a thought-provoking look at the sacred Jain end-of-life fasting ritual and its repercussions in Indian society. Lecture/discussion on October 14th by Prof. Hattangadi to follow the screening.


(A Documentary Film by Shekhar Hattangadi)


What happens when a traditional religious practice violates the law? This is the central question which the documentary film Santhara addresses. It looks at the tensions that arise and the sparks that fly in such a situation.

Particularly in societies which remain largely faith-based despite their outer trappings of profane modernity, the interface of governance and religion is fraught with tensions caused by friction between religiously mandated rituals and practices and the essential legal and constitutional principles of a secular-democratic polity. In India, the incompatibility between law and religious orthodoxy has manifested in several forms, but most dramatically in the case of “religious suicides” — typically where a religious or sectarian tradition endorses the self-extinguishment of human life — as they occur in a legal system that treats suicide as a criminal offence.