Vrindavan: Over a thousand widows of Meerasahabhagni Ashram here, most of them fragile and in their 70s, on Thursday began Diwali festivities after the dusk by bursting crackers and lighting earthen lamps. After celebrating Holi, participating in Maha Kumbh and Dussehra, these forgotten women today began the four-day Diwali celebrations.
The century-old widow shelter sprang to life as thousands of lights not only lit up the building but also the drooping spirit of the widows.
Discarded by their families, the women looked excited as they arranged the colourful bulbs and diyas. Earlier in the day, they designed `rangoli` and later went for shopping near ISKON temple, picking up shawls and sarees of their choice from the market to match the festive occasion.
It was a rare sight to see these widows play with `phooljhari` and crackers. To kindle happiness in their twilight years, Sulabh International founder Bindeshwar Pathak had come up with the idea of organising the festival of lights for them.
"Now the focus will be on imparting education among them. Some amount of education and training will bring back self-confidence to them even at this old age," Pathak said, adding that the widows of Vrindavan are spending their lives in a better manner now.
He said that arrangements have been made to impart education to the widows in three languages, including Hindi, Bengali and English.
Pathak 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.