Sahana Singh ji posted few photos of female Murtis wearing ‘Yajnopavit’ from Kolkota museum on Facebook.
If one researches carefully (as Sahana Singh ji did) one can notice numerous wonderful yet under-researched features of Hindu civilization.
These two statues (courtesy: Sahana Singh) from Kolkota museums show two women, both wearing ‘Yajnopavit’. These statues appear to be from 1st or 2nd century BCE.
Ramanujan Ragagopalan added this image from Bali, Indonesia.
And naturally the subject of ‘women wearing Yajnopavit’ led to if they also did ‘Sandhya’ and participated, or led ‘Homa’.
I assert that the tradition of women doing ‘Sandhya’ and leading/participating in ‘Homa’ is at least 14000+ years old.
(1) Valmiki Ramayana mentions Kausalya purifying herself by sipping water and then performing ‘Homa’
सा अपनीय तम् आयासम् उपस्पृश्य जलम् शुचि |
चकार माता रामस्य मन्गलानि मनस्विनी || २-२५-१
(2) Sita, along with Rama & Laxmana is described doing ‘Sandhya’, before retiring for the night.
लक्ष्मणेन समानीतम् पीत्वा वारि महा यशाः |
औपवास्यम् तदा अकार्षीद् राघवः सह सीतया || २-८७-१८
ततः तु जल शेषेण लक्ष्मणो अप्य् अकरोत् तदा |
वाग् यताः ते त्रयः संध्याम् उपासत समाहिताः || २-८७-१९
(3) As Hanuman waited near a pond in the Ashoka-vana, he thought (hoped) that Sita will at least come to the pond (water) to perform ‘Sandhya’
संध्या काल मनाः श्यामा ध्रुवम् एष्यति जानकी |
नदीम् च इमाम् शिव जलाम् संध्या अर्थे वर वर्णिनी || ५-१४-४९