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The floods in 2013 had left Kedarnath in Uttarakhand devastated and 20-year-old Vinita was one of them.

A resident of the Deoli Vanigram village in Rudraprayag district where 34 men had died, she was one among the many who lost her husband. The village came to be known as “Village of Widows” since there were no men left.

Vinita shifted to her parents’ home in Kumri village and was living there until she met Rakesh Kumar, a  taxi driver from the same district. Rakesh encouraged her to stand on her own feet but their relationship was frowned upon in the region where widow remarriage is still a taboo. However, the couple opted for a court marriage in May 2014. They had to leave their home after the court marriage and stayed in another place in the same district. This week, the couple married again in the traditional way at the Gopinath temple in Vrindavan and  Sulabh International, which works for the welfare of widows in the country, organised their marriage.

“Her marriage before the community is not just an act of courage but a learning that women’s lives do not end if she is left alone due to some reason,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International. Vinita , who now has two children, said, “When I lost my first husband, people there treated me as a pariah and no one would even talk to me. The local people would not even accept a court marriage so I decided to get married in a traditional manner,” she told reporters.

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