A social activist spearheading a campaign for the enactment of a law to ban discriminatory practices related to widows recently appealed to gram panchayats in Maharashtra to publicise acts of prohibiting such practices, reports stated.
At least 7,000 villages have passed resolutions through their gram sabhas. The activist said that these areas should declare themselves as villages that have freed themselves from evil practices related to widows.
The resolution, reports said, had banned the practice of wiping sindoor, removing toe rings and mangalsutra, breaking bangles as part of widowhood rituals. It had also laid down that widows will not be discriminated against in religious and social functions.
It would be good if villages publicise this so that others can follow suit by example. Many of these practices are followed because of pressure and a ‘herd instinct’ that others follow this, simply because somebody else does.
It must also make us introspect the utterly shameful way we treat widows, that in 2022, activists have to come out and tell villages to publicise recent resolutions. While these practices are tangible, breaking of bangles and wiping off sindhoor, there are other abhorrent practices which may be subtle but are still prevalent in cities too.
These are considering a widow ‘unlucky’ and therefore not inviting her to certain celebrations. There is also the practice of telling them, and even if there is no overt telling it is just expected that they dress in sober colours, even if not all white. If they are ‘allowed’ to celebrations, they cannot participate in certain rituals. These pressures are ‘unseen’ unlike resolutions, but they carry as much force as women can be ‘ostracised’ socially if they do not follow them. It is time to send all this cartwheeling out of the window. In fact, this is long overdue. Widows are just like any other woman or individuals, and that is the reality.