Widow in Rajasthan defies age-old tradition, takes part in rituals at son's wedding

Widow in Rajasthan defies age-old tradition, takes part in rituals at son's wedding

A widow from a  small village in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan has made the headlines by defying an age-old custom.

Phoolwati Saini (51) could not touch her daughters when they got married. She always had to hover  around the celebrations like an outcast because she  is a widow.  

Three years later, however, risking her social standing, Phoolwati took part in numerous rituals and celebrations at her son's wedding.

The mother of four and a daily wage earner, Phoolwati has set an example for the women in her community.

"I am  happy that I could  perform rituals that a groom's mother is supposed to perform such as lifting of kalash upon my head, performing aarti, applying vermillion on my son's forehead," said a cheerful Phoolwati.

She not only participated actively but also dressed up in a bright red saree, According to tradition, a widow is forbidden from wearing colourful sarees.  

Phoolwati, who is also a member of the Ekal Nari Sansthan, owes her newfound courage to this mass membership-based statewide organisation meant for low-income widows and separated women in Rajasthan.

"I have been sensitising other women in my community and village. Also, I have helped 13 women to arrange microfinance through various loan and credit schemes offered by self  help groups, banks and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme," said Phoolwati.  

Under a campaign titled HerShare by Girls Count, with support from the UNFPA,   women in this village have also been empowered to enhance asset ownership for themselves.  

"The campaign seeks to motivate diverse groups and individuals to collectively raise a discourse around the issue and support women and girls equal share in inheritance, their engagement with non-conventional occupations. Starting a discourse around discriminatory laws, policies and practices related to women's asset ownership, be it land or housing, is also one of the core objectives of the campaign," explained Rizwan Parvez of Girls Count.

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