Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited a group of widows living in ashrams in Vrindavan and Varanasi to visit his official residence in Delhi to tie ‘rakhis’ to mark the festival of Raksha Bandhan on Sunday.
It will be a dream come true for these widows who have been preparing rakhis for Mr. Modi with the hope that the Prime Minister would initiate measures for their welfare.
“The invitation from Mr. Modi is a rare honour for these widows who have been living a life in penury, shunned by their kin and cut off from the mainstream.
This bonding between the widows and Mr. Modi would mark the beginning of a new era,” said Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International who will accompany these widows during their visit to 7, Race Course Road.
Delhi-based Sulabh International has been taking care of the financial and medical needs of almost 2,000 widows in the cities of Vrindavan and Varanasi for the last two years following requests from a Supreme Court panel. Apart from providing a monthly stipend to widows, Dr. Pathak has been instrumental in running vocational training centres for widows.
On Saturday, around 1,000 widows living in Vrindavan made a new beginning when they celebrated Raksha Bandhan by tying rakhis on Dr. Pathak.
Thus, they broke another social taboo — as in Indian society, widows are not encouraged to celebrate festivals.
Earlier, Dr. Pathak had encouraged widows into celebrating Holi, Diwali and Durga Puja.
These events have been widely appreciated in India and abroad by social activists, academicians and groups working for the welfare of women.