In Hindu mythology, Sati was the daughter of Daksha, son of the Hindu creator god Brahma. Sati was in love with Shiva, god of destruction, but her father forbade her to have anything to do with him. Her father's objections eventually led Sati to her death.
To find a husband for his daughter, Daksha held a gathering of the gods. Sati was to throw a bouquet of flowers into the air and marry the one who caught it. The only god not invited was Shiva. However, Sati prayed to Shiva, who appeared at the gathering and caught the flowers. Enraged, Daksha had to permit the two to marry
pyre pile of wood on which a dead body is burned in a funeral ceremony
After Sati's wedding, her father planned a ceremony involving a sacrifice, and again he invited all the gods except Shiva. Unable to persuade her father to invite her husband, Sati threw herself into the sacrificial fire and burned to death. Shiva, overcome by grief, took Sati's body from the flames and began to dance with it. His violent dance threatened to destroy the entire universe. Finally, the god Vishnu* cut Sati's body into pieces, and Shiva ended his dance. According to some versions of the story, Vishnu later brought Sati back to life. The legend of Sati leaping into the fire is sometimes used to explain the Indian tradition of suttee, in which a widow throws herself onto her dead husband's funeral pyre.
* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.