An Indian couple has allegedly died by suicide by using a guillotine-like mechanism to decapitate themselves in a sacrificial ritual, police said Sunday.
Hemubhai Makwana, 38, and his wife Hansaben, 35, both died by decapitation after using a homemade bladed mechanism in a hut on their farm in the western state of Gujarat, police said.
“The couple first prepared a fire altar before putting their heads under a guillotine-like mechanism held by a rope,” Indrajeetsinh Jadeja, a police sub-inspector, was quoted as saying by Indian news outlets. “As soon as they released the rope, an iron blade fell on them, severing their heads, which rolled into the fire.”
Fire is considered sacred in Hinduism and it plays a significant role in several worship rituals. The couple apparently designed the device used in their beheading in such a way that their heads would roll into the fire altar, completing their sacrificial ritual.
Police, who said they had found a suicide note addressed to family members, have launched an investigation. The couple is survived by two children and their parents.
The incident took place sometime between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, when police were alerted.
Family members reportedly told police that the pair had offered prayers in the hut every day for the last year.
Ritual human sacrifices are not unknown in India, where official data show there were more than 100 reported cases between 2014 and 2021. But almost all known cases of human sacrifice involve people killing others to please gods, rather than themselves.