Widows in Hindu society .. forbidden marriage, inheritance and prolongation of hair

In ancient times, there was a social-religious tradition called "Sti" which required the widow to burn herself with her husband's body.

Asia Times Desk

New Delhi (Shamshad Husain – Aljazeera Arabic ) She was 18 years old when she died. She tells her life story with tears. She is subjected to all kinds of humiliation and abuse, which is being raped by members of her husband’s family. She is now 28 years old and has preferred to remain silent for fear of bad reputation and threats.

The 67-year-old Subdra Desai says her children abandoned her after her husband’s death and fled away from her home, where she spent days and nights outdoors. Some truck drivers brought her to this place.

But Menogush’s suffering seems more painful. At 11, she married a 40-year-old man, and when he died nobody cared about her.

She was forced to work long hours because wages are low. Hindu society does not want to help widows, but her daughter died because she could not provide food and medicine. She sees death for the widow better than life to get rid of the hell of suffering.

Different stories, but one concern, pictures of the life of the widow Hindu society does not have the right to wear colored clothes or to be adorned with bracelets and ornaments, and should remain curl head and deprived of all social occasions more often.

Official data 
According to government statistics, the proportion of widows in the Hindu community is 4.6% of India’s total population of 1.250 billion, or about 56 million widows.

According to ancient Hindu tradition, the widow is not worthy of respect and lives a pariah and is considered a jerk and should not approach her, and is not entitled to remarry.

They are also denied inheritance and live on the margins of life and may be forced to leave their home or forced to live in the shelters for widows called Ashram and Hindu temples.

These shelters provide accommodation and meals in return for performing mandated work for widows, such as participating in the singing councils of the Hindu gods and playing private music.

The shelters are abundant in cities like Kashi, Haridwar and Matura, which are sacred places for Hindus.

The following five states have the largest percentage of widows: Atatra Pradesh about 2.5 million, Andra and Telanga 2.3 million, Tamil Nadu 2.2 million, Maharashtra 2 million, West Bengal 1.9 million.

Official reports and data also show the following facts regarding the ages of widows (10 to 19 years, 0.45%, 20 to 39 years, 9%, 40 to 59 years, 32%, 60 years and above, 58%).

Rituals and beliefs
In ancient times, there was a social-religious tradition called “Sti” which required the widow to burn herself with her husband’s body.

But one prominent social reformer, Raja Ram Mohan, resisted this unjust tradition of his reform efforts, until the English government came in 1828 with a new law forbidding the burning of a widow with her deceased husband.

This tradition has ended but the suffering has not ended even in our new era. A report by the Women’s Media Center under the title “The Tragedy of the Continuing Indian Widow” reveals the painful truth.

The report says some of the managers of these shelters may involve widows in the sex trade for money.

Which means that widows are vulnerable to multiple types of exploitation even in shelters where they are supposed to be protected and safe, and the risk increases as the widow’s age is small.

In the opinion of the report that the belief that the widow is unclean is what leads to such abuse of the widow.

The seizure of the inheritance of the widow and her money deprives her of the reliance on these funds for the purposes of investment and honest work, and thus finds herself committing degrading acts.

The society’s view of the widow with contempt and disdain forbids her from marrying again, forcing her to live under shame.

Community forces widows to live in their own shelters (Al Jazeera)

New possibilities 
There is still some hope, and with all this data, the new generation has an openness and a possibility to improve the situation of widows because it has begun to realize the magnitude of the problem and the suffering.

The first of these steps was the elimination of outdated traditions and the lifting of the siege on widows and giving them a greater margin of freedom and a decent life.

One of the Hindus, Bahraman Das, a resident of a Hindu temple in Matura, says he does not violate a widow’s marriage after the death of her husband if he dies at her young age.

He adds that she must remarry, and “we see that some widows wear colored clothes without flying the head.”

This new awareness has contributed to many young people marrying widows, and many older men have begun to accept this openness, which is supported by social institutions and organizations.

On the legal and official level, the Supreme Constitutional Court recommended that widows be given full attention to social security and full financial rights, and that systematic efforts be made to improve their situation.

For its part, the government is working to organize professional training schemes for widows to be able to work and get money out of this tragedy.

These efforts include the establishment of various projects, including the granting of financial grants to widows, which are placed in their account with the bank every month, with the provision of food, including 20 kg of wheat and 15 kg of rice, as well as sugar and others.

With all this financial aid, the government has opened in these shelters the incense and perfume production projects from flowers to the temples where these widows are employed.

Courtesy :.Aljazeera Arabic 

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