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PRESS TRUST OF INDIA, 28 August 2015, 1:38PM

New Delhi, Aug 28 (PTI) Breaking free from social orthodoxy, widows from Vrindavan and Varanasi as well as liberated manual scavengers from Alwar and Tonk districts of Rajasthan tied Rakhis on the wrist of Sanskrit scholars to mark Raksha Bandhan, here today.

Many women who attended the ceremony celebrated the festival after a break of a decade or more, sharing the joy of the social mainstream.

“I have been living in Varanasi since last 11 years, and haven’t got a chance to celebrate festivals because of orthodox-societal norms. Today I’m here and feeling so good that I can’t even express,” said a Widow from Varanasi, Devanti.

The ceremony began with women tying Rakhis to the Sanskrit Scholars who came from Varanasi to celebrate the occasion with widows and liberated manual scavengers.

A group of 5 women from manual- scavenging background will also tie Rakhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow.

“This is the first time we are invited for any such gathering. I was 7-years-old when I started helping my mother in her work of manual scavenging and even after my marriage I continued doing that. However, I never liked that,” said the representative of liberated manual scavengers from Alwar Usha Choumal.

“This initiative has given us an opportunity to mingle in society and to celebrate the festivals as other people do,” she said.

Around 250 women took part in the ceremony organised by Sulabh International at constitution club here with the aim to break an age-old tradition of “untouchability”.

“Our idea is how to change thoughts, behaviour and attitude of the people of this country towards widows of India, who are their mothers, sisters, aunt and so on and so forth. And with this aim in mind we organise this event,” says Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International.

This is not the first time when Sulabh organised such event for the widows of Vrindavan and Varanasi, it had earlier organised an Iftar party for them to celebrate the holy month of Ramzan and also Holi celebration earlier this year.

Source: http://www.ptinews.com/news/6433002_Vrindavan-widows-celebrate-Rakhi.html