Living Death of India's Widow

 
    • In India more than 20,000 widows living in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, are shunned by their own families and the society they grew up in. As widows, they suffer the severe form of subjugation. Widowed women are harassed, abused, and denied land and livelihood.

      Widows face different forms of deprivation: economic, social, cultural and emotional. After being driven out of their families just because of losing their husbands they take shelter in Vrindavan. Unbelievable as it may seem but it happens even in the new millennium! Widow segregation still prevails in a section of society especially in West Bengal, Nepal & Bangladesh. Women whose husbands die; have to get their head shaved, dress in white, and lead lives as social outcastes, regardless of their age. The other choice is to move to Vrindavan and live amongst many others like them in ashrams (hermitage) until death. According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". The women congregate every morning and evening at the numerous bhajan (devotional song) ashrams to sing devotional songs. Bhajan singing is compulsory if they are to receive a dole of Rs.2.50 to Rs.3 a day (nearly two U.S. Dollars a month) and some meager ration. Alternately, they throng the streets near the temples to beg for sustenance. Perhaps even as they chant the name of God, these nameless women constantly worry about food and shelter. These places besides having a high population of widows accommodate many destitute women. Living alone and having no one to protect them has made these women vulnerable.

      In a patriarchal society like India, once a woman loses her husband she loses social and economic status along with it and suffers immense social and psychological pressure. She is either forced to live in her in-laws' house or dumped in religious places. Superstitious relatives even blame them for their husband’s death. The widow can become a liability with no social standing, an unwanted mouth to feed. Often they’re cast out of the family home. Marriage of the widow is still not an accepted concept in large parts of the country, and even more unheard of is giving a widow the right to a share of her husband's property. Most of the widows of Vrindavan, Come here in search of death, waiting for death”, as they say. They are waiting on the roads, they are waiting on street corners and ultimately it’s so sad that when they die, there’s no one even to pick up their bodies because a widow’s body is inauspicious. Even some of the ashrams (hermitage) today are also scattered with diseases like tuberculosis, dysentery and STDs. Most often, in the poorest ashrams medical help is virtually non-existent.

      Lack of government pensions, literacy, knowledge of basic human rights along with strong cultural beliefs in the conservative Hindu caste system and above all extreme poverty are the major causes for the sufferings of the widows.

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According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.

According to the 1991 Census of India, there are 33 million widows in India. This is eight per cent of the total female population which is increasing day by day. A large number of widows living in Vrindavan, are seen on the streets, in ashrams and other centers in Vrindavan. Vrindavan has over 4,000 temples and many ashrams (hermitage). So much so that Vrindavan has come to acquire a horrific nickname, "City of Widows". Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India. March 29, 2009.