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Anuja Jaiswal| TNN | Oct 17, 2017

Vinita Devi was widowed in the Kedarnath floods of 2013, aged just 20.

Vinita Devi was widowed in the Kedarnath floods of 2013, aged just 20.

AGRA: The 2013 floods in Uttarakhand wiped out the entire male population of Deoli Vanigram, a village in Rudraprayag district located 75km from Kedarnath. Among the 34 men killed was the husband of Vinita Devi, all of 20 at the time.

The grieving young widow moved to her parents’ home at Kumri village, also in Rudraprayag. There, she met Rakesh Kumar, a taxi driver from another village in the district, Tilwada, who helped her get back on her feet. Soon, the two fell in love.

Rakesh met Vinita’s parents to seek her hand in marriage, and they had a court marriage in May 2014. But in a region known for its belief that widow remarriage is a sin, their union attracted disapproval, and so they moved away.

“I realised how difficult life is for widows after spending a few months at my mother’s home after I was widowed. People there treated me as an alien and hesitated to even talk to me,” said Vinita.

Disturbed by the ostracism of widows, she resolved to fight it. And to that end, on Monda , resplendent in a red saree, she married Rakesh again, this time at the four century-old Gopinath temple in Vrindavan in a ceremony with all the trappings of a Hindu wedding -including `mehndi’ and `pheras’. And to send out the message loud and clear, the guests included hundreds of widows of Vrindavan, for whom Vinita’s stand was an indication that the death of her husband need not leave a woman hiding in the shadows, cowering under social scorn.