Breaking taboo, Vrindavan widows celebrate festival of colours

Holi celebrations were organised by Sulabh Foundation, which has been striving to bring back these widows to the mainstream

yoshika

Yoshika Sangal | March 22, 2016 | Vrindavan


#Sulabh International   #Holi   #widows   #Vrindavan  


Hasna mera kaam, hasana mera kaam, hass ke dikha do, hass ke dikha do, hass ke dikha do ji!
(Laughing and making others laugh is my motto, laugh for me!)

These are the words echoing in rhythm as one enters the ancient Gopinath temple in Vrindavan town in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. A set of three young girls are singing similar melodies, mostly inspirational and high in spirit. The speakers allow their words to reach all the 1,500 widows sitting across the temple hall. They have gathered from various ashrams situated in the ‘city of widows’ to celebrate the festival of colours, of Holi. Aid group Sulabh International, has been organising the celebrations for them since 2013. And this year, for the first time, they chose a Krishna temple to mark the occasion.  

Being a widowed woman in India bears with it certain stigmas that ostracise them from social gatherings. They give up colour, make-up, perfume and jewellery. Abandoned by their families, these destitute women have gathered in this city from all over the country. Known as ‘miras’ of Lord Krishna, they spend most of their time in ashram’s doing daily chores and singing hymns. But during this month of March, these women look forward to celebrating the festival that lasts a fortnight.

Fistfuls of powdered colours are repeatedly thrown into the air; blue, red and green, the cheerful colours settling into their white sarees, the symbolic attire of a widow. Women cover each other’s faces with colours while dancing to the beats of music played by Sulabh volunteers.

They enthusiastically talk to tourists and pose for cameras as many onlookers try to capture these beautiful moments. Bucketful of fresh rose and marigold petals are thrown from the first floor balconies on the crowd below that encompasses widows, volunteers, visitors and well-wishers. As one tries to make way to join the dancing circles, fresh piles of colours and flowers are thrown generously, making sure that no one is left with even an inch of their bodies without colour. As many of these women laugh and excitedly move around the hall, some of them choose to sit aside just looking at the scene in front of them. As they refrain themselves from colouring others and occasionally try to cover their faces from splashing colours, they seem to be content in seeing others, the smile on their faces never fading away. Outside the temple is a line of widows sitting on the side of the corridor. They are mostly old women trying to avoid injuring themselves in the crowded hall. But even as they sit away from all the merriment, they too seem to enjoy listening to the music and loud cheers of the crowd coming from inside. The celebrations that break away all their taboos and feelings of abandonment, last for almost three hours. Towards the end, as they all get up to dust the Holi colours off their bodies, and continue to the next room for lunch, followed by changing into fresh set of white sarees, these colourful days remain intact in their hearts, yearning for their next Holi.

 

Comments

 

Other News

How inequality keeps rising amid pandemic – and is killing people

The world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion (at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day) during the first two years of a pandemic while the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall and over 160 million more people forced into poverty. A new

Vistadome coaches on Central Railways a hit with passengers

The Vistadome coaches on Central Railways have received an overwhelming response from passengers. Not only have they boosted tourism and registered an occupancy of 20,407 passengers but also clocked revenue of Rs.2.38 crore between October and December 2021.   The CSMT-Madgaon-CSMT Jansh

Omicron on relentless run: India records 2.68 lakh cases

India is once again caught in a spike of Covid-19 cases, with the highly transmittable omicron driving numbers. The total cases in the country continued to increase on Saturday, recording 2.68 lakh cases in 24 hours. India`s active caseload currently stands at 14,17,820 or 3.85%, while the r

Bill Gates, charity and the dilemma of already successful people

Mantra and the meaning of Success By Rajesh Talwar Bridging Borders, 288 pages Rajesh Talwar, who works as Deputy Legal Adviser to the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan, has written 31 books, and on January 15 he is releasing one more. ‘

An inquisitive reader’s guide to Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas

Essence of the Fifth Veda By Gaurang Damani Divine Destination, 234 pages, Rs 350 ‘Veda’ literally means ‘knowledge’.

Humility: Going beyond binaries to deliver justice to tribals

Being Adivasi: Existence, Entitlements, Exclusion [Part of ‘Rethinking India’ series] Edited by Abhay Flavian Xaxa and G.N. Devy Penguin, xxvi+182 pages, Rs 699 ‘Being Adivasi: Existence, Entitlements, Exclusion’ (Penguin India), edited by

Visionary Talk: Farmer`s Agitation, Rakesh Tikait with Kailashnath Adhikari


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter