Old widows untie shackles to tie rakhis on pandits, PM next

Unable to hide her happiness, 40-year-old liberated manual scavenger, Usha Chaumar is brimming with enthusiasm on being able to tie a rakhi on the wrist of a Hindu priests to mark Raksha Bandhan here on Friday.

However, she is looking forward to the festival on Saturday as she would then tie the sacred thread on the wrist of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I am very excited. The Prime Minister will now be my `bhaiya’ and I would ask him to ensure that every girl in the country feels safe and liberated. I would also ask him to ensure that every house has a toilet," gushed Usha, who hails from Alwar in Rajasthan.

On being able to tie a rakhi to a pandit, she said, “There was a time when we were not even able to sit on the steps of the temple. And today, I am getting an opportunity to tie a rakhi on a pandit's wrist.”

Breaking tradition, around 150 liberated manual scavengers from Rajasthan's Alwar and Tonk districts along with around 100 widows from Varanasi and Vrindavan tied rakhis on the wrist of pandits and Sanskrit scholars on the eve of Raksha Bandhan in an initiative by NGO Sulabh International organised at the Constitution Club.

A group of five women representing the manual scavenger community would visit Modi's residence on Saturday to tie rakhis, and they would also hand over special rakhis designed by the widows, who had tied rakhi to the Prime Minister last year also.

“The idea was to bring about a change in the society's viewpoint towards the country's widows and manual scavengers. This is the first time such an event has been organised. The pandits have come from Varanasi,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International.

Sita Adhikari, a 51-year-old widow, said that it would definitely help bring about a change in the minds of the people and the society at large.  “I cannot express my happiness in words,” she said pointing to the rakhi she waited to tie on the wrist of a priest.

Agreed Biddhisagar Mishra, a pandit. “This is a great initiative which is for the welfare of the country. This is help break societal stereotypes and spread the message of love and harmony,” he said.

Sulabh has earlier organised Holi and Diwali for the widows, along with organising a visit of the widows to Kolkata to participate in the Durga Puja celebrations.

 

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