Defying tradition, Vrindavan widows to celebrate Diwali
Vrindavan: Breaking the shackles of tradition, at least a thousand widows leading an inconspicuous life in this Mathura town will celebrate Diwali this year.
To kindle happiness in their twilight years, Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak has come up with the idea of organising the festival of lights for these widows, locally called as `matas`.
Earlier this year, these women celebrated Holi and then Durga Puja by flying to Kolkata. Among them several women had lost their husbands at an early age and were left by their families.
In 2012, a panel, appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the condition of the widows told the court that they are "highly vulnerable" groups, living in "pathetic" conditions.
For the first time, the Diwali celebrations would take place at a century-old widow shelter Meerasahabhagni Ashram Vrindavan on October 31 onwards till November 3.
Thousands of earthen pots have been arranged and being painted by the widows themselves for celebrations.
Probably for the first time they would be going to lit the candles and earthen pots on Diwali. They are also making all the preparations for the Diwali-special cultural programme.
"Sulabh will continue with its nationwide campaign for welfare of widows," Pathak said, while explaining the idea behind organising such rituals.
He said that he intended to draft a bill and hand it over to Parliament to improve the plight of widows abandoned by their families.
He urged all political parties to support his proposed bill drafted by him. "I strongly feel time has come for the government to enact a law for the welfare, protection and maintenance of widows so that their living conditions and general existence are improved," Pathak said.
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