They were maltreated and thrown out of their homes. They were forced into a life of seclusion, despondency, and deprivation. Their misery was ignored to the point that they started begging and living on the roads. “They” are the widows of Vrindavan. The land of Lord Krishna, Vrindavan is considered one of the holiest towns in India. But the atrocities that the widows face here are diabolical and debilitating. Many women after the death of their husbands move to Vrindavan in the name of God to find peace and solace. Clear reasons behind their migration are still not found. A majority of them come from the remote areas of the country and get exposed to pathetic medical, food, and hygiene conditions.
According to a 2019 report by the NGO Sulabh International, more than 10,000 widows are residing in the town. A majority of them are from West Bengal as per the sources. They survive here by singing religious songs (aartis) at the mandirs, doing kirtans, or even begging. They live at doorways, streets, temples and the lucky ones find a home in ashrams or shelter houses. The widows are seen as a burden everywhere they go, starting from their husbands’ households to where they end up residing in the pilgrims. In their own houses, they are mistreated by their in-laws and children and are forced or lured to leave for a place like Vrindavan to seek tranquility. After they reach Vrindavan, some of them end up at the mercy of wicked landlords who charge exorbitant rents from them, while others are left homeless.
In 2018, Supreme Court came forward and directed the temples in Mathura and Vrindavan to donate all flowers offered to them to shelter homes so that the widows could use them to make perfumes, incense sticks, etc. This was aimed at making these women self-reliant and inhibiting an entrepreneurial mindset in them. Given the dire situation of these women, the court also directed the state government to take all steps to restore their plight. Many non-governmental organizations have been working day in and out to make sure every woman gets access to shelter homes and schemes are formulated by the state government in their favor.
The unprecedented global pandemic situation has presented a new challenge to the people helping these women. A majority of the widows residing in Vrindavan are elderly which makes it extremely crucial to take care of their health in these daunting times. They should be taught about the necessary precautions like washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing, etc to keep them safe and sound. In addition to that, measures should be taken to upgrade their lives and eradicate the social stigma attached to these abandoned women. People should come together to add color to the dreaded lives of the widows of Vrindavan as they deserve the same respect, care, and love.
Contributed by Amanpreet, Content writer at Mitti ke Rang
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