Vrindavan widows to celebrate Durga Puja in WB

Vrindavan widows to celebrate Durga Puja in WB

It will be a sort of homecoming for around 50 Bengali widows of Vrindavan when they step out of the iconic Howrah railway station to celebrate “Durga Puja” in Kolkata this year.

The widows, many of them in their 80s now, had been shunned by their families and were asked to leave their homes in West Bengal, but will participate in the festivities after reaching the city on September 25. 

“The widows, who might have last seen the city several decades ago, will be given a traditional welcome at Howrah station,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder-director of Sulabh International, which has adopted hundreds of widows living in Vrindavan.

“Traditional drums and conch shells will herald them, with flowers all the way: 100 kg flower petals will be used for the grand event,” he added.

The widows will cross the Hooghly—a distributary of Ganga—by boat to refresh their memory of the famous Howrah Bridge. They will visit “Kumartuli” to see how artisans breathe life into the clay idols of Goddess Durga, he added.

During their week-long stay, they will enjoy tram and Metro rides, besides visits to dozens of Puja pandals. The widows also plan to visit the famous Kali Bari, the Victoria Memorial and some other attractions in the city.

Several widows, including 95-year-old Kanak Lata Devi, who has been living in Vrindavan for around 45 years, desire to meet West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“This is a novel idea that will give them a break from their monotonous lives at the ashrams,” said Pathak. “Their trip to Kolkata is an effort to bring some joy and a sense of belonging to their lives. They are going back to the land of their ancestors.”

Sulabh currently looks after around 1,000 widows at Vrindavan. “It is not just a Puja tour for them. It’s a visit to their roots, a journey down memory lane,” said Pathak.

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