A large number of widows from various shelter homes gathered at the Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan on Tuesday to celebrate Holi, giving a toss to orthodox traditions that forbid them from taking part in the festival of colours.
The celebration at the historic temple, which first began in 2013, was kept in abeyance for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to officials.
"It was unbelievable for the widows in the Indian society to break the age-old tradition," said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of NGO Sulabh International who initiated efforts to mobilise widows of Vrindavan to celebrate Holi.
Around 10 years ago, taking note of the pathetic condition of widows living in Vrindavan, the Supreme Court had asked NGO Sulabh International to look after them.
On Tuesday, widow Gaurvani Dasi was thrilled to play Holi as maid companion of Radha Rani. Dressed in white sarees, the widows danced, sang Rasiya (tradition Holi song of Brij) and smeared each other's faces with herbal 'gulal'.
Chhavi Maa, a 70-year-old widow, welcomed the change with open arms after leading years of monotonous life. Widows hailing from West Bengal also showered flower petals on each other and chanted Krishna bhajans.
Applying colours at the feet of the Lord Krishna statue, Manu Ghosh (85) said she never imagined that she would get the opportunity to play Holi at a temple.
"We have no words to express our joy," Widows Vimla Dasi (65), Ratania Devi (67) and Chhaya (66) said in unison, but in a choked voice. The festival was celebrated in the presence of a large gathering, including some saints of Vrindavan.
With PTI inputs.