A history of sort was created in Varanasi, formerly known as Kashi, on Monday when a large number of high-caste Hindu seers and Sanskrit scholars shared a meal with more than 100 widows, who are often considered “untouchables” in orthodox Hindu society.
Widows from different parts of the country who are living in different ashrams in Varanasi broke traditions, with prominent Sanskrit scholars and saints at a function held at Kashi Vidyapeeth in the holy city.
The function was organised by Sulabh International, a non-government organisation (NGO) active in the field of sanitation.
“It was an exercise to create awareness against the practice of widowhood in the country. Such programmes will help end this treatment,” said Sulabh International founder Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who sought support of the Hindu seers, saints and Sanskrit pundits to oppose widowhood. The seers and scholars also hailed the efforts to allow the widows to lead a normal life. “Such programmes will go a long way in sensitising people towards the plight of widows,” they said.
Pathak said he intended to draft a bill to improve the condition of widows abandoned by their families.
He urged all political parties to support the proposed legislation.
“I will also meet UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, and appeal to them to introduce this draft bill in Parliament,” he said.
The organisation had last month launched a pension scheme for widows under which each of them would be given Rs 2,000 every month. Sulabh had launched a similar monthly pension scheme in Vrindavan a few months ago.
The pension will enable the widows to take care of their health and other needs.