3 women perform last rites of grandfather

August 31st, 2009 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Lucknow, Aug 31 (IANS) Notwithstanding stiff opposition from some village elders, three sisters in Uttar Pradesh performed the funeral of their grandfather in contrast to the Hindu tradition of only men performing the last rites.
Rinku Yadav, 27, a post-graduate from Gorakhpur University, alongwith her younger sisters Reema and Anju - both in their early 20s - performed the last rites of their 70-year-old grandfather Veer Bahadur in the Bhagalpur village of Deoria district, some 300 km from Lucknow.

“It came as a shock for us when we saw the girls lighting the pyre at the Kalicharan ghat along the banks of Saryu river,” Pawan Mishra, a resident of the Bhagalpur village, told IANS.

“The aged residents of the village were against their decision… They warned the girls not to go against the Hindu tradition, otherwise they would invite the wrath of the villagers. However, they (sisters) did not pay any heed and performed the last rites,” added Mishra.

According to locals, Bahadur died Sunday morning and his last rites were performed later in the day as per vedic traditions.

In the absence of any male member in the family, the three sisters decided to perform the funeral rites of their grandfather. The sisters lost their father in 2005 in an accident and were living with their mother and grandparents.

Soon after the death of their father, Bahadur had developed strained relations with his two younger brothers - Jangbahadur and Phulena. Later, both of them, who reside in a nearby village, stopped visiting their brother’s place and did not even come after his death.

Local residents said when the senior villagers learnt about the decision taken by the three sisters, they insisted that they plead with Bahadur’s brothers to perform the last rites.

However, the sisters refused and, after taking consent of their mother and grandmother, the three performed their last rites of their grandfather.

In India, men traditionally carry the dead in a funeral procession for cremation or to the burial ground and perform the last rites. In a practice, now widely seen as discriminatory, Hindu women are forbidden to perform the last rites.

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