Despondent widows awaiting death in Vrindavan

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Vrindavan, UP, Jul 20 (UNI) With a belief that death in this holy city would lead to salvation, thousands of destitute widows are now counting their last days here, while begging for food and chanting bhajans in ashrams.

Most of the despondent women, who flock here from far-flung areas of West Bengal, spend their widowhood in peace after facing dejection from society.

The widows could be spotted on the streets, hunched over with walking canes, their heads shaved and their pain etched by hundreds of deep wrinkles on the faces. Chanting 'Radhe-Radhe', they go around the city of Lord Krishna and Radha, begging for food every morning.

There were over 25,000 Hindu widows who have travelled almost 1,000 kms from their native villages in eastern part of the country to live in Vrindavan.

Every widow has passed through the worst phase of her life with most of them being thrown out from their own houses by relatives, who considered them only a financial drain on the family after their husbands's death.

The religious dogma still prevalent in rural India that widows are persona non-grata on any auspicious occasion, has further helped in their being ostracised from society.

Even after the interference of the Supreme Court, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some effort by the Uttar Pradesh government, nothing has benefitted these ageing women.

In December last, the SC had ordered the Centre and the UP government to look into the pitiable condition of the widows.

Early this month, NHRC chairman Rajendra Babu also had a long discussion with the officials of the UP government for lending a helping hand to these starving widows.

However, the social workers believe that lack of coordination between states and central government has been affecting work in the rehabilitation schemes, for which the Centre was releasing funds regularly.

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