How Widows Made Feel Human Again
Superstitions and out-dated customs turn a woman, who has lost her husband, almost into a pariah, she is no longer a woman, a human being with human feelings. She is a bad omen. But times are changing. Globalisation has had effect and people’s ideas are getting out of their time warp. For the first time around a thousand widows living a sort of reclusive lives at ashrams in Vrindavan and Varanasi spent special four-day-long Holi celebrations in Vrindavan. It was also the first time when widows from Varanasi joined their sisters at the century-old “Pagal Baba Widow Ashram” in Vrindavan for celebrating the festival of colours, breaking an age-old Hindu tradition. Their white sari turned in multi-colours, courtesy NGO Sulabh International.
It was a sight to see widows laugh and frolic around. Most said we are feeling human. The widows smeared colours on each other and enjoyed the festival with over 1,000 kg ‘gulal’ (coloured powder) in several colours and 1500 kgs of rose and marigold petals which were arranged for the programme. The Holi revelries began with much fanfare and included music and dance performances. The celebration is a break from years of social stigma which is attached with women who have lost their husbands. Hopefully this practise will extend to include other festivals and rituals from which widows are generally barred.