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Widows Show Off Their Language Skills They Pick Up At An Adult Literacy Class
2013-2014
VRINDAVAN, INDIA – MARCH 29: A widows study in an adult literacy class in Meera Sehbhagini Mahila Ashray Sadan, Vrindavan in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on March 29, 2013 in Mathura, India. In the foreground Dipali De holds a writing slate and a chalk stick and shows off her English writing skills while another widow in the background takes pride in showing off her Bangla, the script of Bengali, the language of West Bengal, her mother tongue she learns at this ripe age. Widows and even single women, mostly from the eastern Indian state of West Bengal choose to spend rest of their lives in the devotion of Radha and Krishna. To Hindus, Lord Krishna is the fountainhead of divine love and spirituality. Radha is His beloved wife who holds an equally august position in the Hindu religion. Traditionally, generally speaking, widows in conservative regions of the country avoid or have been denied social sanction for remarriage, are expected to wear white, eat simple food and abstain from participating in social events. Historically, they generally faced contempt from the families of their in-laws and community at large, who would attribute their men’s death to themselves, believed to have brought bad luck to the families. They led, and in several places in the country still lead a lonely life. Vrindavan, ‘the ‘city of devout widows’’ as it is known as, is believed to be a place of salvation. The adult literacy classes, an initiative of an Indian non-government organization Sulabh International, are immensely popular among the elderly women who find the literacy program very engaging.
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