700 widows in Varanasi celebrate Diwali inside temple breaking stereotypes
Vrindavan, Oct 28: Breaking an age-old taboo, about 700 widows celebrated Diwali for the first time in the ancient Gopinath Temple here on Thursday.
The initiative to let widows of Vrindavan light up their lives was spearheaded by Sulabh Movement leader and social activist Bindeshwar Pathak, who was also present for the celebrations. Widows from six of Vrindavan’s ashram took part in the celebration.
Widows from Varanasi joined widows living in the Hindu holy city of Vrindavan to enter into the Gopinath temple with an aim to break cultural taboos, which restricts them from taking part in any festivals, among others, after the death of their husbands.
This was the fourth time that widows took part in any festival through the Pathak-led movement.
Earlier, Diwali was celebrated by the widows of Vrindavan but not inside any temple. They were also able to celebrate Holi from last year as a result of the initiative.
The celebration inside the temple started with Pathak lighting up the candles and ‘diyas’ placed circularly. He was then joined by the widows who lit ‘fuljhari’ and ‘anaar’, before they showered Pathak with flowers.
“With an aim to bring a ray of happiness at their twilight years, we have come up with this unique idea to organise the festival of lights, especially for the widows,” he said.
Sulabh International looks after half a dozen widow ashrams in Vrindavan, including Pagal Baba, Ketan Vihar, and Maa Dhaam ashram, among others.
“We have been celebrating Diwali, Holi, and Durga Puja since 2012. Pathak ji has done a lot for us. He gave us ambulance, TV, fridge, medicines,” 85-year-old Mona Ghosh whose been living in Pagal Baba Ashram for last 30 years told IANS.