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India even after being an independent nation is caged with many gender taboos. And one such among them is our society being uncomfortable with women performing last rites.
Mandira Bedi smashed patriarchy unknowingly, but the reaction of the audience was even more disappointing. It’s the 21st century already, so should cremation still be a gender specific role?
Bedi’s husband Raj Kaushal passed away because of cardiac arrest. Mandira Bedi not only carried the bier but also looked inconsolable. Performing last rites was her decision to bid a goodbye to her husband. However, opinionated people out there didn’t just question Mandira’s attire but also her decision to perform last rites.
Amid such horrible times in one’s personal lives, do choice of attire and performing last rites is something that has to be questioned? How even is this situation morally wrong and why is this incident no less horrific for our generation?
Getting sparked by just this issue is not a good deal, because gender disparity is deep rooted. Women are considered to be weaker sex and inherently less capable. So, what makes a person superior? What’s the superiority complex and how it’s even related to attending last rites of an individual?
Before moving ahead to other aspect of daughters, wife, or mother can’t perform last rites of anyone, let’s see some legal and religious reasons –
Legally there is no such statement prohibiting any lady to perform the last rites of any individual. In fact, even the higher judicial authorities are in favour of this act. Talking about an older incident, Indrani Mukherjee, who was in judicial custody in 2016 was given a bail for a day to perform last rites of her father. This is not just a case, a quick google search and you’ll find a plethora of related incidents.
Conclusively, performing the last rites of parents is all fair legally, it’s just the religious anarchy holding people back. Let’s dive into some reasons (or say justifications) related to the same –
- If a virgin girl attend the funeral there are chances that any spirit might enter their body since they are pure
- Women’s have softer heart as compared to men, hence they might get terrified and have a lasting effect on mind if they see the body burning
- Menstruating women are impure and thus they are not allowed to perform last rites
- A pregnant lady must not see a dead body burning since it can have bad effect on the child
As ironic as these reasons may sound, let me tell you, any of these doesn’t come through as a valid reason (At Least for me).
Years of following these not so worthy rules just hampered women. Performing last rites of any person by any person is not a SIN, and no Ancient books or Hindu knowledge contain instructions forbidding women from taking part actively in funerals.
The New Generation Demands Better!
It’s not just Mandira Bedi who has set an example, and this post is not just all about her. There are more such stellar examples, like
- Namita Kaul, foster daughter of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee performed his last rites
- Malika Sarabhai, daughter of Padmashree Awardee Mrinalini Sarabhai lit the funeral pyre and gave a tribute by dancing in front of her body
- Pankaja Munde, daughter of Gopinath Munde performed last rites of her father
With due respect, I believe that Change Is Common, and some age-old traditions are not required to be followed so ardently.
Any person is worthy to perform any rites of their closed ones irrespective of gender. It’s time not to hold on to orthodox beliefs that are somewhere baseless. And all this talk about equality must get louder, not just with words but through actions too! I owe all my respect to this lady who not only stood firm, but even made a mark in this society.
This post is part of #CauseAChatter with Blogchatter