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A Widow Looks On, Sitting In Swadhar Mahila Ashray, Seetaram Sadan In Vrindavan
2013-2014
VRINDAVAN, INDIA – MARCH 30: Pramilla Saha, a widow, looks on, sitting in Swadhar Mahila Ashray, Seetaram Sadan In Vrindavan in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on March 30, 2013 in Mathura, India. She is an active participant at Bhajans, sessions of devotional songs and meditation, for she sings well. She wears a Tilak on her forehead, which is made of sandlewood paste. A Tilak has calming effect and is of great religious importance to a Hindu. Traditionally, 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. A widows’ ashram in the ‘city of devout widows’, believed to be birthplace of Lord Krishna, as Vrindavan is known as, and the activities like Bhajans offer an apt platform for camaraderie and a sense of belonging among the fellow inmates. (Photo by Xavier Zimbardo)
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