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By Arunav Sinha,TNN | Sep 24, 2015

LUCKNOW/AGRA: For the first time, hundreds of old-aged widows of Vrindawan gathered on Thursday to participate in a three-day yoga camp. The camp is aimed at imparting lessons to these widows to keep themselves physically and mentally fit. Niti Ayog advisor Debabrata Das inaugurated the camp, which was organised by Sulabh International in Chetan Vihar. Speaking on the occasion, Das said that good health can be maintained by practising yoga and it could be done free of cost.

Around 1,000 widows are participating in the camp, where Sulabh Founder and renowed sociologist Dr Bideshwar Pathak was also present. Sulabh International has been taking a number of welfare measures for widows of Varanasi, Mathura and Kedarnath valley.

After the Supreme Court expressed anguish over the appalling conditions in which the widows lived uncared in Vrindavan, Sulabh started taking care of around 1,000 widows living in various ashrams. Sulabh is working for improving the condition of the widows and bringing them to the mainstream besides ensuring their social assimilation.

“Sulabh will continue with its nationwide campaign for the welfare of widows,” Pathak said, adding the latest initiative will be imparting them lessons in yoga — a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline that originated in India.

International Yoga Day is celebrated on June 21 and was declared so by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 11, 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his UN Address suggested the date of June 21 as it is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and has special significance in many parts of the world.

In Varanasi and Vrindavan, hundreds of widows lead an isolated life to attain ‘moksha’ or liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. Living in small rooms in narrow alleys, they spend most of their time praying and looking for food, in absence of family support.

Widows after the death of their husbands face humiliation and insult from the family, which often treated them as inauspicious. They are asked not to be present on any auspicious function in the family. They are also not supposed to wear colour sarees, ornaments and they have to wear only white sarees and are not allowed to take garlic, onion and non-vegetarian food.