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March 23, 2016 10:27 IST

 

IMAGE: A widow daubed in colours takes part in the Holi celebrations organised by non-governmental organisation Sulabh International at an ashram at Vrindavan. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

Another tradition was broken as young Sanskrit scholars from a local Gurukul and Varanasi and pundits from the temple joined the celebrations, signifying the further social assimilation and acceptance of these widows.

IMAGE: Traditionally in Hindu culture, widows are expected to renounce earthly pleasure so they do not celebrate Holi. But women at the shelter for widows, who have been abandoned by their families, celebrated the festival by throwing flowers and coloured powder. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

Amidst chanting of Vedic hymns and blowing of conch shells, the widows freely used vermilion powder in the festivities and played Holi with petals of rose and marigold.

IMAGE: Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, heralds the beginning of spring and is celebrated all over India. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

The oldest participant was 105-year-old Kanak Lata who was brought to the temple in a wheelchair.

IMAGE: The program was heralded by the NGO, Sulabh Foundation, which takes care of over 1,500 widows. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

“I am thankful to organisers who provided me an opportunity to witness Holi in front of the principal deity of Gopinath temple,” she said.

IMAGE: Another tradition was broken as young Sanskrit scholars from a local Gurukul and Varanasi and pundits from the temple joined the celebrations, signifying the further social assimilation and acceptance of these widows. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

“It is an effort to break the tradition of Hindu society where widows are not allowed to play Holi. Our effort is to replace it with a new arena in their life,” social reformer and founder of Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak said.

IMAGE: The oldest participant was 105-year-old Kanak Lata who was brought to the temple in a wheelchair. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

Bindeshwar Pathak, well-known social reformer and founder of Sulabh International who has waged a steady campaign against ostracised widows in the country, also joined in the celebrations.

IMAGE: Many of the widows had been socially ostracised after the death of their spouses. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

The Sulabh International has been taking care of 1,500 widows in Varanasi and Vrindavan in the light of the Supreme Court’s observations in 2012.

IMAGE: The Holi celebrations broke a 400-year-old tradition. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

“In an effort to bring them into the mainstream of society, Sulabh started organising Holi for them about three years ago at the widows’ ashram. But this time it is special as Holi was organised at a famous temple to give a kind of social acceptance,” Pathak said.

IMAGE: A widow pictured here dancing during the festivities. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

A total of 1,200 kg ‘gulal’ and different coloured powders and 1,500 kg of rose and marigold petals were arranged for the special event.

In many parts of India, widows are traditionally barred from playing Holi or participating in any other festival or auspicious functions.

Source : http://www.rediff.com/news/report/photos-vrindavan-widows-celebrate-holi-break-4-centuries-old-taboo/20160323.htm