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The forgotten widows of Vrindavan
Vrindavan is one of the holy places for Hindus. People come here in large numbers to seek blessings of Lord Krishna. Thousands of people in India are members of ISKCON. They come in large numbers to the temple. Tourists also come to see the holy place. The city is always over-crowded with people. Here is a different side of Vrindavan, which is not known by majority of the people. This sad side is the condition of Hindu widows who live here.

In the male- dominated Indian society, there is no value of life of a widow. People who come in large numbers for pilgrimage; they fail to notice life of these living dead souls. Thousands of widows live a miserable life in dharamshalas. There, widows who can afford staying in any  dharamshala. But there are a large number of street widows, who do not have money to get a shelter. These are the street widows who live in streets and sleep wherever they find place in the city.

In conservative families, widows are considered out-casts. They are considered a burden. Even the sons of these women discard them. Once the father dies, all property is divided among sons, and then the widow mother is considered a burden, so they are dumped in holy cities like Vridavan. Most of the widows come from West Bengal, a state ruled by a lady. The government of the state does not take any initiative to provide shelter to widows. There is nothing that is done to stop widows from moving to Vrindavan.

The life of these women is miserable. They have to sing bhajans for long hours and they get petty Rs. 2 to Rs. 10 by end of the day. That is the reason that these women stay outside main temples so that they can beg money. The worst victims are the old ladies who cannot sing any more or suffer from some disease. They are left to die alone in their misery. The U.P. government has provided shelters which are not sufficient to give place to all the women.

The number of these widows is increasing every year. According to an estimate, there are 6000 widows in Vrindavan alone. The state government claims that they are giving widow pensions and old age pensions to such women. But they get a meager 150 Rs per month. In Indian society, wife of a man is considered a property of her in-laws. If the husband dies then the family decides how to treat her and what to give her. This is the sad story of poor women forced to live in a hell like condition. Most of the women do not even remember when they were dumped here.

The worst thing is that the government intervention is negligible. The U.P. government and West Bengal government need to take actions to protect these widows from all forms of exploitation.

More important is changing the mind set of people in general. Widows should not be declared outcasts. Widow re-marriage needs to be encouraged. The mindset of the society needs to be changed so that widows can lead a dignified life. Most of the women are treated so badly by their sons or in-laws families that they prefer staying in these holy cities than going back to their homes. This is the tragedy that there is no place for the widows. 

They are not allowed by the society to lead a dignified life, so on both sides these women have no escape from exploitation. The state governments, central government and organisations like ISKCON can do a lot to help these destitute women, but only problem is lack of conviction.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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