In Orthodox Hinduism, women whose husbands die must renounce all earthly pleasures and spend the rest of their life in worship. This means that for centuries, widows have been forbidden from participating in the Indian spring festival of Holi, according to Quartz. But this year, things were a little different.
In the town of Vrindavan, hundreds of widows gathered to celebrate Holi with the tradition of throwing colorful powder into the air, resulting in everyone's face, body and clothes, looking like a modern art canvas. By participating in Holi, these women are trying to show that some of the old traditions concerning widows are fading away.
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The taboos regarding widows run very deep in Hinduism. When a woman's husband dies, she is essentially stripped of her identity. She receives very little support from the community, meaning she can no longer support herself or her children financially. Sadly, many of these widows are seen as a burden to their family, and even considered bad luck, so they are often cast aside. Other than begging on the streets, the only chance they have at returning to any kind of normal life is to find a home in a Hindu temple called an ashram.
Yet events like this year's Holi celebration in Vrindavan shows that things are beginning to change. A woman named Rasia, who lost her husband when she was just 17-years-old and is now 65, told The Times of India "Times have changed for the good. People no longer look at us as a curse. When I see these young children having no inhibitions in sharing their joys with women like me, I feel very happy."
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