Why women are not allowed to attend Funerals


Prohibiting Women from entering Graveyards is ācāram more than a śāstra. Usually women are sensitive and cannot withstand the death of husbands and sons and family members. If they are allowed there they might take their own life out of agony. One such examples are Mādri died by falling in the cremation fire of Pāndu in Mahābhārata. In the biography of Narasimha Saraswati in Guru Charitra - a story in which a mother getting her dead son back is narrated in which she refuses to give dead body and gets ready to die along with him. Another story also in which a wife is ready to do sati sahagamanam along with her husband's dead body is also narrated in Guru Charitra. So to avoid such wrong happenings out of agony and grief, it has been kept as an ācāra, but there is no such prohibition in dharma śāstras.

As far as women performing rites is considered, they are allowed to do as stated by Garuḍa Purāṇam, Preta Kalpa Chapter Eight (Source 1 and Source 2)

गरुड उवाच -

स्वामिन्कस्याधिकारोऽत्र सर्व एवौर्ध्वदेहिके । क्रियाः कतिविधाः प्रोक्ता वदैतत्सर्वमेव मे ॥ १ ॥

garuḍa uvāca -

svāminkasyādhikāro'tra sarva evaurdhvadehike । kriyāḥ katividhāḥ proktā vadaitatsarvameva me ॥ 1 ॥

Garuda said -

O Lord, now tell me who are authorized to perform obsequies and what are the methods of performance prescribed in the śāstras.

श्रीकृष्ण उवाच -

पुत्रः पौत्रः प्रपौत्रो वा तद्भ्राता भ्रातृसन्ततिः । सपिण्डसन्ततिर्वापि क्रियार्हाः खग ज्ञातय ॥ २ ॥

śrīkṛṣṇa uvāca -

putraḥ pautraḥ prapautro vā tadbhrātā bhrātṛsantatiḥ । sapiṇḍasantatirvāpi kriyārhāḥ khaga jñātaya ॥ 2 ॥

Sri Krishna (The Lord) said -

Son, Grandson, Great grandson, his brother and brother's progeny, so also sapiṇḍa progeny - all these are authorized to perform the obsequies.

तेषामभावे सर्वेषां समानोदकसन्ततिः । कुलद्वयेऽपि चोच्छिन्ने स्त्रीभिः कार्याः क्रियाः खग ॥ ३ ॥

teṣāmabhāve sarveṣāṃ samānodakasantatiḥ । kuladvaye'pi cocchinne strībhiḥ kāryāḥ kriyāḥ khaga ॥ 3 ॥

In their absence, samānodaka progeny can perform the rite. If both the families are maleless the women should perform the obsequies.

इच्छयोच्छिन्नबन्धश्च कारयेदवनीपतिः । पूर्वाः क्रिया मध्यमाश्च तथा चैवोत्तराः क्रियाः ॥ ४ ॥

icchayocchinnabandhaśca kārayedavanīpatiḥ । pūrvāḥ kriyā madhyamāśca tathā caivottarāḥ kriyāḥ ॥ 4 ॥

In the absence any family or relative, the king may perform all the rites - the preliminary, the middling and the final.

Also, the Garuḍa Purāṇam Sāroddhāra (Essence of Garuḍa Purāṇam, considered equivalent to Garuḍa Purāṇam and recited widely) in its Chapter 11 (śloka 18) says

स्त्री वाऽथ पुरुषः कश्चिदिष्टस्य कुरुते क्रियाम् । अनाथप्रेतसंस्कारात्कोटियज्ञफमं लभेत् ॥

strī vā'tha puruṣaḥ kaścidiṣṭasya kurute kriyām । anāthapretasaṃskārātkoṭiyajñaphalaṃ labhet

A woman or man who performs the rites for anātha preta (unknown person or friend) obtains the fruit of performing a crore (or unlimited) sacrifices (yajña). This (Regarding Anātha Preta rites) is also said in Garuḍa Purāṇam, Preta Kalpa Chapter Thirty Eight (śloka 40) as अनाथप्रेतसंस्कारः कोटियज्ञफलप्रदः

Hope this helps you.

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