A mentally ill woman was burnt to death after Holi revelers of a village in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India, set the Holika ( Holi bonfire) on fire on Thursday night as a part of the festivities without knowing that she was hiding inside it.
The villagers of Gulauli realized that they made a grave mistake when they found the charred body of Seema Devi, 35, among the remains of the bonfire (Holika Dahan) on Friday (March 2) morning.
On the eve of Holi, a clump of wood is set on fire across India to signify the burning of Holika, a female demon, who tried to kill Prahlad, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, according to myths.
The victim's siblings say that Seema Devi had left the house on the eve of Holi, informing her family members that's she was going for the Holika Dahan ceremony.
"Seema, mother of four children, dressed in wedding finery, left home with a 'diya' saying that she was going to attend 'Holika Dahan' rituals but went missing. We launched a frantic search for her, but in vain," Devi's brother Amitendra was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
However, her brother also added that she was not suicidal.
"Seema often used to dress up as 'Holika'. At times, she even addressed herself as 'Holika', but we had no inkling that she will resort to such extreme step. Had she exhibited some kind of suicidal tendency, we wouldn't have let her venture out," Amitendra added.
A villager said that early on Friday morning they got the stench of burning flesh "emanating from Holika, following which they alerted the police.
"When wood was cleared, we saw a burnt body and pulled it aside. It was beyond recognition. Seema's family identified it from her bangles and ornaments," SHO of Musanagar told the news outlet.
The autopsy report has confirmed that the victim died of suffocation. Though the police have said that they do not suspect any foul play, the bigger question is how she managed to hide inside the Holika without anybody noticing her.