'Holi of Hope' for thousands of Vrindavan's widows

Vrindavan / Agra: Continuing to defy the age of tradition, a large number of widows once again participated in the Holi celebration inside the historic Gopinath temple in the holy city of Vrindavan.

A huge amount of fresh flower petals of different colors were arranged to play Holi. Widowed mothers played Holi with each other with specially prepared Gulals to avoid any health hazards. They celebrated Holi by throwing flower petals and Gulals and singing Krishna bhajans and songs.

Until a few years ago it was unthinkable. The families of Vrindavan's widows treated them as worthless and inauspicious. The widows were debarred from celebrating or participating in any festivals and social functions.

It was the seventh year that Well known Social Reformer and Founder of Sulabh International, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak initiated efforts to mobilize hundreds of widows who have made Vrindavan their home to celebrate Holi.

Vrindavan's Holi celebrations in recent years have become memorable occasions for the large number of widows who in the recent past used to face humiliation.

But, their life changed for the better when the Supreme Court intervened and asked NGO Sulabh International to take care of the widows waiting for death in despair in the last stages of their lives.

Dr. Pathak while sitting reason behind organizing Holi says,” I was horrified to see their heart-wrenching plight. To keep them in such pathetic condition, I thought, it was inhumane and a blot on our culture.”

Sulabh founder Says,” my idea of celebrating Holi in Vrindavan is to send a clear and strong message to widows and the society at large. We want to help them develop their resilience and self-esteem and want them to believe that they too are normal human beings. They have their human dignity like us, and they have the right to sing, laugh, dance, and lead a normal life”.

This special celebration is set to add a new color to the Holi festivities in 'Braj', popular among both Indian and foreign tourists.

While expressing joy, eighty-plus-year-old mother Mannu Ghosh termed this celebration as “Holi of Hope“ for thousands of widows living in Vrindavan and Varanasi. Other mothers like Chabi Dasi and Rataniya Maa expressed great pleasure in celebrating Holi with other mothers.

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