BY BRIJ KHANDELWAL
Agra–Defying centuries-old social stigma and restrictive norms, widows in Vrindavan on Wednesday evening dispelled darkness to welcome light in their lives, by celebrating Diwali at the famous Keshi Ghat along the holy Yamuna river.
In the past, widows in India were treated as “inauspicious” and barred from joining celebrations by the tradition-bound Hindu society.
At the grand celebrations, widows maintained social distance, while celebrating. A group of widows from different shelter homes, took out a procession holding colourful diyas (earthen lamps) to the river to add fervour to the festivities.
This is the eighth year in a row when widows symbolically participated in the celebration of lights.
Thousands of widows, mostly from West Bengal, have been living in Vrindavan for decades and they were not allowed to take part in rituals, till the Sulabh International took the initiative and provided them with the platform and an opportunity to join the mainstream.
With an aim to bring a ray of happiness and counter the tradition of widowhood, noted social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh Movement came up with this unique idea to organise the festival of lights, especially for the widows.
It may be mentioned here that in the light of Supreme Court’s directives, Sulabh takes care of widows living in various ashrams.
75-year-old Chabi Dasi said, “Motivated by the series of revolutionary initiatives widows are now happy and enjoying their stay in Vrindavan.” (IANS)