Vrindavan, 2014.10.22 (TOI): Giving the usual traditions a miss, several hundred Vrindavan widows on Tuesday began their three-day Diwali celebration on the banks of River Yamuna. Marching in a procession carrying lighted diyas (earthen lamps) in their hand, they went to the ghats of the river this evening to raise awareness about its pollution.
The widows of Vrindavan, who have continued to defy the age-old customs by celebrating not only Diwali but in the past also celebrated Holi and Raksha Bandhan, besides taking part in Durga Puja in West Bengal. Besides lighting the colorful earthen lamps, they sang bhajans.
All the seven ashrams in Vrindavan have been decorated tastefully with lights and earthen lamps for Diwali.
Around a thousand widows, mostly from West Bengal, live in Vrindavan for decades. Widows in these ashrams are being looked after by NGO Sulabh International, which is taking care of their health and day-to-day requirements. “Sulabh will continue with its nationwide campaign for the welfare of widows,” founder Bindeshwar Pathak said.
Pathak said he intended to draft a bill and hand it over to the Parliament to improve the plight of widows, who are abandoned by their families and urged all political parties to support the proposed bill drafted by him. This will be the first occasion, when the river, which has become notorious for its high pollution content, will be witnessing a change perhaps for the good. All the seven ashrams in Vrindavan will be decorated with lights and earthen diyas during the festival of light.