Vrindavan, 2017.10.17 (VT): It was the landslides of Kedarnath that took Vinita’s husband away. That was in 2013. After remaining in her in-laws’ home for two months, she returned to her parents’ home, but life there was hard with no job or income.
In many parts of India, widows are expected to wear white and not to participate in any festivals, let alone marrying again. Due to being considered inauspicious, many are even cast out of their homes.
Vinita had only been married for six months when her husband was killed. But rather than accept the traditional narrative that her life had ended with her husband’s, she decided to embrace life instead. She got married again, this time to a man named Rakesh, in a civil ceremony a year later. But in order to legitimize their union in the eyes of society, Vinita wanted a wedding.
Vrindavan’s ancient Shri Radha-Gopinath Temple proudly offered to be the venue for the wedding. The temple’s unapologetically progressive stance is a breath of fresh air in this “city of widows” where families from around India send their old mothers to die alone.
People like Sulabh International’s staff and the Goswamis of the Radha-Gopinath Temple have truly embraced these women and are making them feel accepted again.
Hundreds of Vrindavan’s widows attended the wedding alongside the families of the bride and groom, and some assisted in the ceremoniy. Hundreds of eyes flowed with tears as the couple took the seven steps around the sacred fire, solemnising their union. A Diwali-themed celebration was held in the evening, and the elderly ladies smiled as they lit lamps and waved sparklers.
Vrindavan resident Ratnavali Devi said, “I am so pleased that the Gopinath Temple decided to break with tradition by hosting this couple’s wedding. Morality seems to lose its purpose if it is enforced by making a whole section of the society suffer.”
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