Indian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India

2023/09/14/ 151

(Indian Widow City) Thousands of Indian women and more than 20,000 widows have been abandoned by their relatives! 

Nowhere to go, no place to hideIndian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-1-lacecatSome of India's most conservative Hindus believe that a woman whose husband has died should not live on because she cannot keep his soul.

Rejected by their communities and abandoned by their loved ones, thousands of impoverished women make their way to the pilgrimage town of Windawan, about 100 kilometres south of Delhi, where more than 20,000 widows live.

These women have no choice but to live in the Vidhwa dojo (Widow dojo) operated by the government, private companies, and non-governmental organizations.

They are dressed in white clothes, knowing that they will never go home, and this is their destination for the rest of their lives.

We unite as one

According to Indian tradition, a widow cannot marry again.

She had to hide at home, take off her jewellery and put on mourning clothes.

She became a source of shame to her family, lost the right to participate in religious life and became socially isolated.

Many widows are either abandoned by their husbands or flee to the big cities, where they often disappear.

Some went to the holy city of Varanasi in India, while others went to Windawan, where many widows worshipped the Indian god Krishna.

tradition of persecution

Widows in India have always been marginalised and persecuted, with Sati being the oldest and most obvious example.

In 1829, British colonisers were disgusted by the outdated Indian funeral custom of Sati. When their husbands died, widows would often immolate themselves on his pile of firewood or commit suicide in some other way, as if their lives had lost value after his departure.

Why don't these discriminated women want to survive?

Their pain and struggle is like that of vulnerable groups oppressed by harsh realities.

rebuild life

After arriving in Wendawan, many widows have lost their loved ones completely.

They have to face the world alone, with no one to help them.

After being rejected by their families, they are marginalised by society and wait for death in deep loneliness and terrible pain.

Gradually, most are welcomed into the widows' community as they try to rebuild their lives and break out of their isolation.


Faith to overcome all difficulties

Gayatri performs a puja (morning prayer) at the Meera Sahbagini dojo, which was founded 60 years ago and is home to 220 widows.

We wake up every morning at 5 o'clock.

Some of us go to the banks of the Yamuna River to wash and do our first puja. Then we return to the dojo and worship Sri Krishna by singing religious songs (Sri Krishna) and (his partner) Radha.Indian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-2-lacecat

help each other   

After singing bhajans (religious songs) and praying together, these women began their daily activities.

They either cook by themselves, or work in groups of two or three to eat together in the room or in the hallway of the dojo.

Afterwards, they read religious books and prayed.

It is undeniable that their faith greatly helps them face the difficulties they face every day.

kind face

At the age of 72, Lalita has been living at the Meera Sahbhagni dojo for 12 years.

I never thought that one day I would beg for food.

But when my husband passed away, I was 54 years old and was kicked out of the house by relatives.

I had to wander on the streets and then found a kind-hearted person who bought me a train ticket to Wendawan.

I have come here and never left

Indian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-3-lacecatIndian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-4-lacecat

Destiny Destroyer

Here, women in the dojo stand by the Yamuna River at sunset, engaging in traditional daily prayer and celebration activities.

One of them was very happy to be there, and she jumped into the water; Other women are helping her return to the shore.Indian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-5-lacecatruthless fate

68 year old Tursi is singing at the dojo. She comes from a village near Kolkata, and after her husband passed away, her in laws inherited her inheritance.

Tulsi was forced to move with her child to a very poor area, and soon one of her sons took her to Wendawan under the pretext of worshipping Lord Krishna

After visiting the temple, he told her it was best to stay in Wendawan, even though she didn't want to. He left and never came back. She has been in the dojo for 12 years.

a soul, a path of life

Shanti Padho Dashi is currently 91 years old and lives at the Meera Sahbhagni dojo. She is the oldest resident of the dojo and comes from West Bengal.

She came to Wendawan 25 years ago.

With India's progress, the situation of widows is gradually improving.

The sense of shame towards widowhood is so strong and has existed for so long that it will not disappear quickly, especially in traditional rural environments.

Indian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-6-lacecatIndian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-7-lacecatRaise awareness and tolerance

The widow in her white chiffon dress buys vegetables on the streets of Wendawan. They are like ghosts, abandoned by society, trying to survive in the shadows.

People are afraid of them and see them as symbols of bad luck.

Some people even cover their ears and steal bells when they meet them on the street.

In recent years, local NGOs like Sulab International have begun to work with these discriminated widows like Dawn.

They not only provide financial support, but also run various projects and media campaigns across the country.

Like the messengers of spring, they use gentle power to portray a bright future for these forgotten people. Through these actions, the public's awareness of these discriminated people has gradually become clearer and their tolerance has grown year by year.

This is the power of non-governmental organisations like Sulab International, who use their actions to explain what care and respect are.Indian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-8-lacecatIndian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-9-lacecatIndian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-10-lacecatchange mentalityIndian Women's Holy City, Widows City of India-11-lacecatHere, the widows of Meera Sahbhagni break free from their shackles and celebrate Huli Festival in colorful ways, showcasing their courage and determination.

Although traditional customs prohibit widows from participating in celebrations, over time, people's attitudes gradually change, and these brave women no longer silently watch, but begin to resist this unfair ban. 

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Which city in India is called the City of Widows?

Widow City in India. The residence of deities in Indian mythology

Widow City in India, located in the religious holy land of Vrindavan, is the residence of deities in Indian mythology. Due to religious and cultural reasons, it is home to over 9000 widows and is also known as the Widow's Home in India. These poor widows rely on charity organizations and the alms of pilgrims to make a living.

The small town of Villendaven has become a gathering place for widows from all over the world, dating back over 500 years. In traditional Indian mythology, the region where Vilindavan was located was the residence of the hero god Krishna, so over 4000 temples dedicated to Krishna were built in this small town with only a population of over 100000.

According to Indian family culture, women play the role of husband and child in the family, while women who have lost their husbands often cannot remarry, and many people have to leave the family to live alone.

At first, some widows came to Verendaven and settled down in the temple of Krishna, expressing their willingness to serve this heroic god for life.

Over time, more and more people gathered here, gradually forming today's scale.

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