In India,is an important ritual for Hindus and most of the other religions. It is believed that after cremation, the soul is released from the dead body and is ready to be reborn. The ritual should be performed properly, for it is believed that our soul can find moksha/mukti (Liberation) only if the ceremony is not disturbed. But the ceremony should only be done by the eldest son of the deceased and if he/she has no son then grandson and so on but it has to be a male from their family.
Now coming to the question, it is believed that women are emotionally sensitive and cannot handle the emotional trauma related to it (quite sexist to state) or cannot bear the sight of losing their loved ones and hence are not allowed in the crematories or even watch from outside. It is also believed that the soul can find liberation only if the male member performs the ceremony and that is the reason why women are not allowed to light the funeral pyre.
Although this belief is so much prevalent, there are some families who do not strongly stick to this method. They don’t care if it’s a male/female, all they want is the ritual to be performed in correct manner. There’s so much biasing that follows this belief. Some even say that women shed tears which are considered as pollutants during cremation but last time we checked, men cry too, even during the ceremony. Aren’t their tears pollutants too? Women need closure too and I feel that performing the ritual can greatly help them find one.