Vrindavan, 2016.08.29 (Ruchika Singhal, Speaking Tree) : Each day thousands of people come to worship in over 4000 temples of Vrindavan. But if you care to look beyond the dusty alleys of this city, you will find ‘the dark reality of women in white’.
In India, these women in white, who turned into widows from being wives, continue to suffer the tag of being ‘unlucky’ and ‘inauspicious’. Having been ostracized or cast out from their own family and society, the society in which they were born, grew up in, got married in and raised their families in. They survive today by chanting Krishna bhajans in Bhajan Ashrams four hours each, in the morning and evening. They sing to earn their basic meals of two handfuls of rice and a meagre two rupees.
They reminded me of the legendary, much revered Meera Bai who sang like a wanderer and a seeker, longing to meet her lover and creator. While Krishna danced Raas-Leela in Vrindavan, Meera Bai selflessly abandoned her royal legacy and dedicated her entire life looking for Him. She let go, to get!! Let go of the worldly comforts and the material pleasures to get in touch with her True Being.
The tears that floated in the tired eyes of these women seem like they took a vow to never roll down the cheek ever again.
I got my answers. Answer that the opening lines from the movie “White rainbow” delivered.
“I slept and dreamed that life was all joy.
I woke and saw that life was but service.
I served and understood that service was joy.”
Rabindra Nath Tagore – opening line from White Rainbow film
Not an iota of self pity or sympathy seeking, I was touched by their enthusiasm to celebrate life, singing and dancing each day. No strings attached, they were the free spirited women. Laughter filled the kirtan room when I started taking their pictures. Some posed, some were shy and veiled their wrinkled-pretty faces. Yet a few jumped over to see their pictures in display of the camera, and instantly asked when they could have their copy. And I thought to myself, they could die any day, however, in the end all that they crave for is a happy ending.
I invite you to make a difference, if you can, if you feel from your heart that you should.
Defeating religious hypocrisy in the name of God, these modern Meera Bais have found what the most important thing in the world is freedom. Freedom to decide for yourself what to do with your life. How you wish to live it in spite of all adversities. The power is with you, only you. The happy faces of these women said, “Widows are not we, widows are only those whose dreams have died, whose faith in self has died.”