Around 800 widows, shunning the shackles of social stigma, today celebrated 'Raksha Bandhan' for the first time in the temple town.
After actively participating in Holi and Deepawali in the past, the widows this time marked the occasion, on its eve, by tying 'Rakhi' to children and holymen in the holy city.
Apart from around 800 widows, at least 100 children from various schools of Delhi took part in Rakhi celebration which was organised at Meera Sahabhagini ashram.
The initiative was taken by Sulabh International, which is working for improving the condition of the widows and bringing them to the mainstream besides ensuring their social assimilation. The organisation looks after a thousand widows living in five ashrams here.
Countering the age-old social evil of widowhood, several widows have taken shelter in this holy city.
About 100 widows, mostly in their 80s, were engaged in making colourful rakhis in Meera Sahabhagini and Chetan Vihar ashram to organise Rakhsha Bandhan at a large scale.
They started making rakhis right from the first week of July and prepared around 1,000 sacred threads.
The widows shared food with school children and upper caste sadhus and brahmins on the occasion.
The widows also participated in cultural programmes especially chalked out for the occasion.
Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak, who takes care of around 1,000 widows in Vrindavan, said that such an initiative would bring cheers to their lives.
"This is my idea on how to change thoughts, behaviour and attitude of the people of this country towards widows, who are their mothers, sisters, aunties and so and so forth," Pathak said.
A collection of 2,000 colourful Rakhis and sweets would also be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the widows who have expressed a strong desire to meet him and urge him to ensure their all round welfare.
At least ten widows would visit the PM residence with rakhis on behalf of around 2,000 widows living in Vrindavan and Varanasi tomorrow on Raksha Bandhan hoping to meet Prime Minister Modi.
Manu Ghosh, who is more than 80 year old, hoped Modi would accept Rakhis from his sisters.
"We'll organise many such programmes for them in near future," Pathak said.
Sulabh, known the world over for promoting the concept of low-cost sanitation, started taking keen initiative in the welfare of widows after the Supreme Court took strong exception last year to the manner in which the bodies of widows, who lived in government shelter homes at Vrindavan, were disposed of.
Widowers ( of which there should be much less than widows, due to the long lives of the feminists ), should also celebrate festivals.
>> And, of course, to even greater violence against women and girls.
Why will it lead to greater violence against women and girls?
A Raakhi Campaign Designed to Promote Hatred
It is a festival that has been celebrated to cement relationships beyond familial ones and one in which people of many communities have traditionally participated. It is a matter of concern that this year, the Sangh Parivar has launched a campaign all over India to 'celebrate' this festival in its own unique fashion. Thousands of volunteers carrying bags of rakhis are to fan out all over the country, specially to villages in Uttar Pradesh, so that Hindu girls and women can tie rakhis on their Hindu brothers' wrists in order to protect them from Muslim men and forced conversions.
What certainly is not needed is the hijacking of the trauma and suffering of women and girls by communal organisations for whom the question of justice for the victim is of no concern. Their immediate agenda is one of interpreting the issue of violence against women in a narrow and sectarian manner. This can only lead to conflagaration and conflict. And, of course, to even greater violence against women and girls.