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Mar 25, 2013 at 11:38am IST

Vrindavan widows break shackles of tradition, play Holi in public

Vrindavan: Breaking the tradition, more than 2000 widows in Vrindavan played Holi on Sunday out in public view. Traditionally, widows do not participate in such festivities but they have been celebrating Holi for decades at their ashrams.

Sunday, however, was an unprecedented public celebration. As part of Holi celebrations, traditional 'Raas-Leela' dance and other programmes have also been organised.

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"Vrindavan Holi is an effort to free widows from the shackles of age-old tradition. Not only will the widows play Holi, they will also participate in cultural programmes," founder of Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak said. In the past, widows living in the ashrams could have played Holi only with 'thakurji' (Lord Krishna).

The festival has a different hue altogether as they will enjoy among themselves. The widows of the holy town feel such celebrations would prove to be an unprecedented step towards ending social prejudice against them, he said.

"In an effort to bring widows to mainstream and help their social assimilation, we have organised several events to encourage them to participate in Holi celebrations at Vrindavan," Pathak said. As widows do not play Holi traditionally in Vrindavan, the event this year may need some amount of change in the mindset of the society, he said.

The organisation has been providing facilities to all the widows in five government run shelter homes here, he said, adding, apart from giving them stipend, Sulabh was also arranging their food and healthcare facilities.

(With Additional Inputs From PTI)