Changing Lives of Vrindavan’s Widows

A Portrait of Widows

Vrindavan widows for these many years have been living a life of isolation. They have lived a life where they have given up worldly pleasures and lived times of penury in homes meant for them. With years gone by and changing mindsets there seems to have been a change of thought in these widows.

Like any other ordinary citizen these old women living in the holy city of Vindavan want to live life as usual without any hindrance and inhibitions. In recent festive occasions the Vrindavan widows have celebrated moments with gay abandon.

Not just sending rakhis to the PM, but even celebrating Diwali and Holi among themselves bringing different hues and colour back into their lives. Nearly 1000 widows this Rakshabandhan sent a rakhi each to the PM.

Adding to the emotional quotient of the festival this time hundreds from Vrindavan and liberated manual scavenger women tied Rakhi to 50 upper caste sages, Sanskrit scholars and priests at Gopinath temple in Vrindavan. The idea largely is seen as the acceptance of widows in the society.

Sulabh International provides financial assistance of Rs 2,000 each to around 900 widows living in six widow shelters in Vrindavan.

Interestingly reports say that nearly about 100 widows, mostly in 80s made colourful rakhis since August.  Among those working are the Meera Sahabhagi and Chetan Vihar Ashram.

A collection of 2,000 colourful Rakhis and sweets were sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the widows.

At least ten widows from Vrindavan and Varanasi visited the Prime Minister’s official residence in Delhi.

For the widows of Vrindavan and Varanasi living a detached life has become a way of life. Thousands of widows lead an isolated life to attain liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. Widows in small rooms in narrow alleys spend most of the time praying and looking for food.

Holi widows Vrindavan (4)
Holi Celebrations by widows

Amidst chanting Vedic hymns, blowing of conch shells, widows freely used vermilion powder in the festivities and played Holi with petals of rose and marigold last Holi.

There are approximately 34 million widows in India.

Widows are socially stigmatized and must forego all forms of make up and symbols of marriage or femininity.

Vrindavan houses more than 20,000 widows. Over years many shelters run by the government, private enterprises and NGOs have come up in the city.

Even as the widows of Vrindavan find a new energy to celebrate their life and freedom in this nation, India hopes that the life of the widow in the 21st century is of a different kind where they do not have to live a colourless life of odds stacked against them.

Widows live life of Isolation

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