I do not think so. But there seems to be an exception. If someone dies and nobody else is (no children, for example) coming forward to do the initial cremation, any one can volunteer and do that out of humanitarian consideration. It is colloquially known as "Govinda koLLi" and does not involve any duty to even perform the 13 day rituals, I think. I have overheard this from elders. More knowledgeable members may guide, if this is wrong.If we perform the funeral and other death rituals of my husbands periappa, can we do anybody elses funeral from my side during that year.
I do not think so. But there seems to be an exception. If someone dies and nobody else is (no children, for example) coming forward to do the initial cremation, any one can volunteer and do that out of humanitarian consideration. It is colloquially known as "Govinda koLLi" and does not involve any duty to even perform the 13 day rituals, I think. I have overheard this from elders. More knowledgeable members may guide, if this is wrong.
Dear Shri Kunjuppu,sangom,
i have heard this too, and used to cause terror me, especially on those sleepless nights, when phantoms rule and havoc the mind with imagined fears.
my own maternal grandparents did not have a son, and i ended up doing their ceremonies. my fear for the next 365 days would be that if i were to lose my own parents, that rites would be done by somebody else.
to me, my parents were life, affection, blood and duty; my grandparents were duty by default, in that i did the rituals because there was no one else to do it, and my family at that time believed in the inevitability of the rituals.
grandma passed away when i was fourteen, the onset of puberty and along with it the confusions of so many things that later make up one's life. the fear was real, and what was frustrating was that there was no one to talk to.
just to put things in perspective, that day, the same day when nehru died, we had our grandma lying on the front room, and there was a big fight.
we had two very groups in our family - both learned and interpreted the scriptures to suit their pov. one group said that it is the girls who should do the kriyai (i still don't know if girls can do shraddhams as i have never seen it happen).
the others wished me to do it, the reason being that i would live a long life, and the longer i lived better it is forthe pithrus (they had no hesitation in doing panayam on my life and speaking for me without ever asking me one word). the latter group, with my mother's support won.
mercifully the good God gave my parents long lives, and i did the last rites and further for both of my parents in person. it is a terrible feeling sometimes, that scriptures or practices, prevents one from doing some actions so dear to the heart. i shudder even now, 50+ years later...
ps.. i am grateful that the ritual of hitting the skull to break it open had disappeared by my time. i don't know how my ancestors did it, but it sure would have freaked me out
Dear Shri Kunjuppu,
Though this thread deals with death as its subject indirectly, I think there is no escape from saying our views. Normally, the grandson thru' daughter (dauhitran) is not asked to do the cremation and other rituals, if he is the only son, because it is an unwritten rule that the eldest son has to do his parents' karma first. In my family when my maternal grandfather died, it was my father who got "darbhai" from my 3 year-old brother and performed all the rituals including the subsequent annual Sraddhas till my brother got married. I understand this is the procedure even if the daughter has only one son. So I do not know why it was that your father did not do the rituals after getting darbhai from you and saying "yajamAnasya mAtAmaha/mAtAmahi" as appropriate.
In our custom the breaking the skull is only for those who took to sanyasa and in their case, the rituals are done not according to grihasta rules but the rules of the sanyasi order concerned.
Dear Kunjuppu,.... to sum up. it is this son thing in our society, that i find so hateful. why could not my mother/her sister do the rites for their father? i have heard it being done in other brahmin communities?
I think our customs recognized the difference between male and female well, even in the time of the rigveda. The womenfolk, if we go by the rigvedic picture, accompanied the dead body up to a point and then the priest is seen advising them to return home as per one rik. It will be more difficult for a woman to withstand the cremation ground (not an interment as among Christians, etc.) experience, though now it won't matter because men and women have equality.
Women were allowed to do the further rituals and annual sraddhas in an abridged manner - but not exactly hiranya sraaddham - without homam. I have seen my (paternal) grandmother's younger sister doing this annual sraddham for her husband who left her when she was a mere 13 years.
Dear Shri RVR,My mother is the only daughter of my maternal grand parents.
My father use to do annual srardha for his father in law getting due authorisation from my mother. After demise of my father, my mother continues to feed two brahmins on the anniversary.
My elder brother was just a one year old child when my maternal grand mother died. After Upanayanam my brother is doing annual srardha for my grand mother which is continuing even today.
All the best
Dear Shri RVR,
In the scenario given, the custom (among us at least) will be that you as the second son of your parents have the right to do the Karma for your maternal grandparents and the annual Sraddha, if your parents had received any assets (ornaments, land, money) from those grandparents. I do not know how and why the custom is different.
Dear Shri RVR,Sri Sangom Sir,
Probably customs changes from place to place. Since we are from Trichy, Tanjore belt (Chola Nadu), we were following certain practices.
When my maternal grandfather died, my elder brother was not born. My grandfather's Dhayathi did the last rites getting due authorization from my mother. The Dhayathi was given some lands for performing last rites as well as the annual srardha. After the Dhayathi also expired, my father was doing annual srardha getting due authorisation from my mother. After my father's demise, my mother continues annual ceremony with just feeding two brahmins without going through srardha rituals.
When my maternal grand mother died, my elder brother was just one year old. My maternal uncle performed the last rites and my brother is doing the annual srardha after his upanayanam.
All the best
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