Mangala Devi, used to live in Jaunpur got married with a 35 year old man when she was 12 years old. Her husband died by the time she could understand what was the married all about – she turned 22 year old. She was thrown away from her home and she started seeking shelters. Stayed for few months at her sister’s home then discarded from there as well. Finally, reached to Varanasi – Abode of Lord Shiva and lives here since then in Birla Widow Ashram – It has been two decades.
From this Birla Widow ashram, a little farther from this widow Ashram is a Nepali old-age home where only Nepali widows live, and almost 10 Kms away in Sarnath, a government-run old-age home homes near sixty senior girls. All these are not widow though, A few are here as a result of their families cannot support them. When they’re unable to work, they are supposed that they’re a burden on the society and thrown away. A number of them make garlands and necklaces or incense sticks and send the money home to support their families financially, explains Anita Pal, accountable of this old-age home.
Now a days it is believed that widows in India are not thrown on the death funeral pyres of their husbands, in fact when their husband’s dies, they’re undoubtedly stripped faraway from their own identity. Needless to mention, lifestyles and identities adopted by widows are extremely personalized, and primarily that no 2 women’s stories are precisely the same. The question of private selection and direction of widows stay ambiguous, as technically she doesn’t have the control over of her life.
Sadly, the conditions have fully grown in such a heart-wrenching way that these days there are thousands of older widows in Varanasi, soliciting for charity from total strangers so they could afford their own cumulus. With shivering hands, widows in secret keep the tattered rupees in their blouses, hanging loose from their flesh-less bodies.
No matter however fashionable and liberal Hindu faith camouflages to be, it smells of orthodox and superstitions even now. A Hindu widow has to be ‘punished’ when her husband’s dead. She is ostracised in her home villages and thought of inauspicious. Some widows are thrown away by their husbands’ families who need to forestall them from heritable cash or property. Among the Brahmins and pundits of Hindus and a few higher castes, their heads are shaven, further they’re forced to wear white saree while not ornaments and eat one meal all the time. This discrimination is worst than slavery, additional heart-wrenching than the worst of tortures. Additionally, they’re painfully absent from the statistics of India’s gross domestic product, and are often mentioned within the multitude of reports on women’s poorness, development, health or human rights revealed within the last twenty-five years.
When widows are thrown out of their homes, they come to Varanasi with a belief that Lord Shiva will grant Moksha to them after their death. This cultural city and most holy among all Hindu cities attract them most. They involve themselves doing worships and other rituals work and hope to die soon to get rid of all this struggleful life.
There are approximately 258 million widows at the moment worldwide, almost 10 % increase since 2011. Of these women, 15.8% live below poverty line – it is very much like their basic needs goes almost unmet. Only twenty eight percentage of the widows in India area eligible for pensions set to be given by Govt, and of that range, just eleven percent of women truly receive the payments to that they’re entitled. Associate orthodox widow could also be expected to chop her hair or maybe shave her head. Without their husbands and strong supports, widows are treated badly, being removed from appearances in society and discarded as social outcasts. They face discrimination as women, are left ungraded to rape, eviction, physical violence and prostitution etc.
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S 19/131, A-S-D, Hamrautia, Varuna Bridge, Varanasi Uttar Pradesh 221002,
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