Varansi: The temple town of Varanasi on Tuesday witnessed a unique kind of Raksha Bandhan celebration as widows observed the ceremony of tying threads on the wrists of their "brothers" for the first time.
In a marked departure from the age old practise around 100 widows, considered as "inauspicious", gathered at Nepali Ashram on the bank of Ganga river to celebrate Raksha Bandhan in presence of saints and Sanskrit scholars.
"It is an exercise to create a kind of awareness against the practise of widowhood in the country. Such kind of programmes will help end maltreatment of widows," founder of voluntary organisation Sulabh International, Bindeshwari Pathak said.
Pathak has sought support of Hindu seers, saints and Sanskrit scholars to oppose widowhood by organising such kind of rituals for widows across the country.
Sulabh, which has started a campaign for the welfare of widows, is taking active participation in preparing a road map against such archaic practises. It will continue with its nationwide campaign for welfare of widows, Pathak said.
Acting against several such established traditions, Sulabh helped in allowing widows to bathe at the sangam in Allahabad on the occasion of Maha Kumbh this year.
Breaking a taboo, the widows of Vrindavan also played Holi in another unusual event organised by Sulabh, he said.
The organisation recently launched a pension and medical welfare scheme for 200 widows of Varanasi under which it pays Rs 2,000 every month to each widow living in four shelters in the city.
The idea was to change the thought, behaviour and attitude of the people towards widows in general. In places like Varanasi and Vrindavan, hundreds of widows lead an isolated life to attain `moksha` or liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth, Pathak said.
He further said that the enormous sufferings and hardships faced by widows could only be changed by drafting a law for their all round maintenance.
Pathak said that he would hand over a copy of the draft bill to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who herself has shown keen interest in the welfare of the widows and lauded the efforts of Sulabh in ameliorating their plight.
"I will also meet UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and appeal to them to introduce this draft bill in Parliament," he said.