Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati, which has now been changed to Padmaavat, features a scene that tells the horrifying tale of Jauhar, the act of self-immolation. It is believed that Rani Padmavati, also called Rani Padmini, along with other women of the royalty performed Jauhar after Alauddin Khilji, most powerful ruler of the Khalji dynasty, attacked the kingdom of Chittorgarh.

Deepika Padukone, who plays the role of Rani Padmavati in Bhansali's movie, shot for the scene and that has left her extremely disturbed. 

"It is not easy to play a character who has to commit suicide, or Johar, as it is called. And when one is working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, he wants one to feel committed and feel the character all the time. Sanjay takes his time to shoot every sequence," Deccan Chronicle quoted a source as saying.

"The build-up to the Jauhar scene and the scene itself was rather elaborate. Deepika has already spoken about clinical depression earlier in her career. Hence, she does not want to do anything that will take her back to that space."

But what is Jauhar Pratha and why was it practised?

What is Jauhar?

Jauhar (Johar or Juhar) was a Hindu custom of self-immolation. Jauhar Pratha was followed in order to avoid rape, capture and enslavement after the defeat in a war. Jauhars mostly occurred during the war between Hindus Rajputs and Muslim.

It also means mass suicides carried out by the women of the royals to save their honour. Jauhar is derived from Sanskrit words Jau or Jiv, meaning life, and har, meaning defeat. It was not an individual decision.

Roots of the practise

The Jauhar practise was followed by the Rajput women. Instead of consuming poison, the Rajput women preferred to burn in agni (fire) because it symbolises purity. The practise was performed only during the wars between the Hindu Rajputs and Muslims invaders.

Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji in Padmavati
Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji in PadmavatiTwitter

What happens during Jauhar?

Jauhar used to take place during the night and it is said that Brahmin priests would chant Vedic mantras. During the chanting of Vedic texts, the Rajput women dressed in their bridal attire would jump in the fire with their children and commit suicide.

The morning after Jauhar, men would perform Saka. The Rajput men would take bath wearing saffron clothes, apply the ashes from the Jauhar kund on their forehead and go on a war.

Most famous incident

The most infamous instance of Jauhar occurred at the Chittorgarh Fort in 1303 when Rani Padmavati and other royal women self-immolated after Raja Rawal Ratan Singh went on a war with Alauddin Khilji. Khilji wanted to capture Padmavati, who was married to Ratan Singh. In order to capture her, Khilji attacked the fort of Chittor. While Ratan Singh died in the battle, Padmavati and the other women performed Jauhar to save their honour.