" Sulabh, known the world over for promoting the concept of low-cost sanitation, started taking keen initiative in the welfare of widows after the Supreme Court last year took strong exception to the manner in which the bodies of widows, who lived in government shelter homes at Vrindavan, were disposed off."
By Brij Khandelwal

Vrindavan, Aug 9 - On the eve of the Raksha Bandhan festival, the widows of Vrindavan Saturday tied rakhies on children, priests and others in this Hindu holy town associated with Radha-Krishna lore.

Around 100 widows, mostly in their 80s, were engaged in making colourful rakhis at the Meera Sahabhagi shelter for the widows run by Sulabh International and Chetan Vihar ashram to celebrate Rakhsha Bandhan in a grand manner. Such was their enthusiasm that they started making rakhis right from the first week of July and prepared around 1,000.

Hundreds of children joined around 800 widows in the celebration in a departure from tradition that virtually ostracised these hapless women. They shared food with school children and upper caste sadhus and Brahmins on the occasion.

Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak said that such an initiative will bring cheer to their lives. My idea is to the change thoughts, behaviour and attitude of the people of this country towards widows, who are their mothers, sisters and aunts and more, Pathak said.

Rakhis and sweets will also be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the widows, who have expressed a strong desire to meet him and urge him to ensure their welfare.

At least 10 widows from Vrindavan and Varanasi will visit the prime minister's residence in New Delhi on Sunday with the rakhis on behalf of around 2,000 widows living in Vrindavan and Varanasi the latter being Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency.

They hope the prime minister will take time off his busy schedule and meet them.

An 80-plus Manu Ghosh hoped Modi will accept rakhis from these neglected sisters.

We'll organise many such programmes for them in near future, Pathak said.

People associated with Saturday's programme told IANS the day was indeed memorable for the widows.

In Vrindavan and Varanasi, thousands 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 the absence of family support.

Sulabh, known the world over for promoting the concept of low-cost sanitation, started taking keen initiative in the welfare of widows after the Supreme Court last year took strong exception to the manner in which the bodies of widows, who lived in government shelter homes at Vrindavan, were disposed off.

(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at [email protected])


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