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Widows In An Adult Literacy Class In Vrindavan
2013-2014
VRINDAVAN, INDIA – MARCH 30: Widows, Reena Guha (on the left) and Maneka Pal, study in an adult literacy class in Swadhar Mahila Ashray, Seetaram Sadan in Vrindavan in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on March 30, 2013 in Mathura, India. Assisting each other both on and off the class among the elderly single women is common. 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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