Why Women Are Not Allowed At Funeral (Shamshan Ghat)

A Shamshan Ghat, also known as a cremation ground, is a designated platform designed specifically for the cremation of deceased bodies. These cremation grounds are typically constructed in close proximity to rivers or freshwater streams, allowing for the disposal of ashes in accordance with Hindu customs and traditions.

According to Hindu customs, it is traditionally the son of the deceased who is responsible for lighting the funeral pyre at the cremation ground (Shamshan Ghat). While there is a common belief that Hindu rituals prohibit women from participating in the funeral procession beyond their own street and from attending the cremation site, it’s important to clarify that Hindu rituals do not explicitly forbid girls from visiting the funeral site.

In reality, whether or not women can visit the cremation site depends on the family’s preferences and cultural practices. If the family is comfortable with it, women can indeed visit the cremation site. Furthermore, in cases where the deceased had only daughters, the daughters have the right to perform the ritual of lighting the pyre.

Reasons why women don’t go to shmashan ghat:

#1. According to information available on public forums like Quora, it is customary that when all male members of the family depart for the cremation ground (shamshan ghat), there is a need for someone to remain at home to tend to household chores, including cleaning and maintenance. Traditionally, this responsibility has fallen on the women of the household. Consequently, women often stay at home and do not accompany the male family members to the cremation ground.
#2. Indeed, some individuals find funerals to be emotionally challenging to witness. According to Hindu mythology and customs, it is the responsibility of the deceased’s family members to ensure that the body is fully cremated before leaving the cremation ground (shamshan ghat). However, during the cremation process, the intense heat can sometimes cause the deceased person’s body to contract, which can be a distressing sight.

In Hindu culture, there is a belief that women are often considered to have more sensitive hearts, and witnessing such a sight may leave a lasting and disturbing impression on them. As a result, some families may choose to spare women from attending cremation ceremonies to prevent them from experiencing this distressing aspect of the process.

#3. Funerals can indeed be difficult and unsettling to witness. In some instances, during the cremation process, the deceased person’s body might move or jerk due to various factors, and it may require the use of bamboo sticks to gently place it back into the funeral pyre. Additionally, the smoke and odors produced during cremation can be unpleasant and have the potential to cause discomfort or nausea for anyone.

In traditional beliefs, there is a notion that girls may be perceived as having a more delicate mental disposition, and there may be concerns that they may not be able to handle or cope with the distressing scenes and discomfort associated with such funeral rituals. This belief may influence the decision to not involve girls or women in these particular aspects of the funeral process.

#4. According to certain beliefs, it is asserted that married women are permitted to attend the shamshan ghat (cremation ground) while unmarried girls, particularly those who are considered virgins, are regarded as pure. However, there is a concern that these unmarried girls, due to their purity, might be more vulnerable to malevolent entities such as ghosts, evil spirits, and fierce deities who could attempt to exert influence over them through undesirable means. This belief may contribute to the practice of not allowing unmarried girls to participate in certain funeral rituals.

#5. Some individuals have expressed the opinion that women are not allowed to participate in certain funeral customs due to their inability to shave their heads. This perspective is rooted in the Hindu belief about the presence of malevolent forces in graveyard areas, which may attach themselves to individuals who enter such places. The perception is that hair is considered one of the avenues through which these malevolent elements can enter one’s body. Consequently, it is suggested that if a woman wishes to shave her head and align her appearance more closely with men who are going to the graveyard, she may be permitted to do so and participate in these customs.

Final Words

The practice of not allowing women to attend funerals or visit the cremation grounds (Shamshan Ghat) in Hinduism is rooted in traditional cultural and religious beliefs with scientific reason. So Every Hindu should follow this cultural practices.

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