An incident highlighting the spread of superstition in society came to light when a fifty-year-old woman, Shehnaz, was recovered safe and sound from a grave.
Shehnaz had dug a grave in the courtyard of her house and enclosed herself in it for the purpose of completing a “chilla”.
When her neighbours noticed her missing for seven days, they began inquiring. The incident was brought to light when they discovered Shehnaz was inside the grave. Shocked at the occurrence, the neighbours promptly contacted the police and filed a complaint on Wednesday.
Upon reaching the site, police officials dug up the grave and recovered Shehnaz along with some papers and a cigarette lighter as the villagers gathered to view the spectacle. Shehnaz was found reciting religious verses.
The mother of seven protested that her “chilla” was incomplete and that the way authorities had disrupted her ritual and destroyed the grave was illegal. Shehnaz further explained that the “chilla” had been advised by “elders” and refused to move from the spot until her “elders” permitted it. Later Shehnaz fled the spot and went to a nearby shrine.
The police have arrested one of Shehnaz’s relatives, Ghulam Nabi, and initiated investigations.
Shehnaz later returned to the grave two hours after the police officials had departed, despite repeated warnings to refrain from any such activity.
She said she would come out of the grave after another seven days. She also warned the residents that anyone who disturbs her “chilla” would be responsible for the consequences.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2011.