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What is achamana?

From wiki:

Achamanam (achamana, achmana) is one of the most important rituals in the Hindu tradition. It is a male purification ritual that is believed to cure all physical and mental illnesses.1 As such, it is performed prior to almost all other Brahmin rituals.

Achamana is basically sipping small drops of water from right palm.It is purificatory ritual.The word "achamana" literally means "sipping".It is thus the very first act that is performed prior to any Vedic or Hindu Ritual.

Prohibitions on Sudras and women regarding participating in religious rites:

It is well known that Hindu Shastras impose a lot of restrictions on women and sudras when it comes to performance of religious activities.

Specially,the Smritis,also known as the Dharma Shastras ,impose these restrictions.

For,example,Manu Smriti,the first of its kind,declares that there is no Vedic initiation for neither the sudras nor the women folk.

So,the sudras and women are not allowed to study the Vedas.

Similarly,i have read the Brihat Tantra Saara book which says that women and sudras are not allowed to chant the Pranava(OM),the Shri Beejam(Shrim),the Savitri(Gayatri mantra),Swaha etc.

But ,the Sudras and women can still worship.It is stated in Puranas that everyone reserves the right to worship the Almighty be it a Sudra or a woman.

For example,the Devi Bhagavata Mahapurana states that the composition of the Puranas are done in each Dwapara keeping specially in mind the benefits of women & the Sudras.

18-24. At every Manvantara, in each Dvâpara Yuga, Veda Vyâsa expounds the Purânas duly to preserve the religion. Veda Vyâsa is no other person than Visnu Himself; He, in the form of Veda Vyâsa, divides the (one) Veda into four parts, in every Dvâpara Yuga, for the good of the world. The Brahmânas of the Kali age are shortlived and their intellect (Buddhi) is not sharp; they cannot realise the meaning after studying the Vedas; knowing this in every Dvâpara Yuga Bhagavân expounds the holy Purâna Samhitas. The more so because women, S’udras, and the lower Dvijas are not entitled to hear the Vedas; for their good, the Purânas have been composed

Now coming to my question.If women and Sudras are allowed to worship ritually ,they should first have rights to perform Achamana.

Question-Do the Scriptures allow women and Sudras to perform Achamana?

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Yes ,both women and the Sudras are allowed to perform Achamana.The Shastras allow it.

Manu Smriti 2.60. Let him first sip water thrice; next twice wipe his mouth; and, lastly, touch with water the cavities (of the head), (the seat of) the soul and the head.

2.61. He who knows the sacred law and seeks purity shall always perform the rite of sipping with water neither hot nor frothy, with the (prescribed) tirtha, in a lonely place, and turning to the east or to the north

2.62. A Brahmana is purified by water that reaches his heart, a Kshatriya by water reaching his throat, a Vaisya by water taken into his mouth, (and) a Sudra by water touched with the extremity (of his lips).

enter image description here 5.139. Let him who desires bodily purity first sip water three times, and then twice wipe his mouth; but a woman and a Sudra (shall perform each act) once (only).

Similarly from the Yajnavalkya Smriti:

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Hrit Kantha Taalu Gaavistu Yatha Samrayam Dwijatwyah||Sudhyer Stree Cha Sudrascha Sakrit Sprishta Bhirantataha ||(Yajnvalkya Smriti,2,21)

Translation:

XXI.—The twice-born become pure by waters reaching the heart, the throat and the palate, respectively. Women and Sudras become pure directly the waters once reach the palate.—21.

So,everyone including Sudra or a woman should perform achamana before embarking on a religious duty.But the important thing here is to note the difference in the rules.

While a Dvija sips thrice and after that wipes(his lips) twice, a Sudra & a woman should only sip once and then wipe lips also only once.

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