Friday, February 12, 2010

Women defy tradition by performing last rites

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    • Bhubaneswar
    • Dozens of women in an Orissa village performed the last rites of a poor elderly lady on their own, defying age-old tradition, after the men refused to help, officials said Friday.
    • They conducted all the rituals beginning from cremating the body to performing 'sradha' (last ceremony) as per Hindu customs at Khadiala village in the district of Nuapara, about 600 km from here, a senior district police official told IANS.

      The women also hosted a feast for the villagers Thursday as part of the ceremony on the 12th day of the elderly woman's death, he said.

      The women's group came forward after the men of the village refused to perform the last rites of Sabita Bag, 80, the official said.

      She is survived only by her daughter.

      'We decided to perform the rituals on our own without taking help from male members in the village when the latter refused to help,' Truptirani Singh, who led the women's group, said.

      According to her, the deceased was a poor and helpless woman. After her death, her only daughter, Sangeeta Bag, 39, a widow, pleaded with fellow villagers to cremate the body. But no man came forward.

      A distraught Sangeeta then sought the help of a local women's self help group.

      'All the members gathered in our office and we decided to take the entire responsibility on our own. Accordingly, we made necessary arrangements to take the body to the cremation ground on our shoulders. We also arranged the wood,' she said.

      'We conducted all the rituals after her death without taking help from men.'

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