No more breaking bangles: A Maharashtra village bans all regressive widow rituals

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No more breaking bangles: a maharashtra village bans all regressive widow rituals

Image used for representational purposes/AFP

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Villages in India are custodians of rituals, some even regressive. However, a gram panchayat of Herwad village in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur aims to change that. It has unanimously passed a resolution to ban all widow customs.

The village in Shirol tehsil of Kolhapur district passed a resolution banning the practice of women breaking bangles, wiping off vermillion from the widow’s forehead, and removing the mangalsutra, which are all part of rituals that have been handed down over time, said Surgonda Patil, the sarpanch of the gram panchayat. Other customs which will now be discontinued include stopping widows from wearing bright colours and jewellery, and keeping them away from celebrations and functions because of the superstition that they bring ill luck.

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Treating widows as equals

“As per the law, every citizen has the equal right to live with freedom however these practice has taken away the rights of the women which is actually against the law and the constitution,” the village resolution stated, according to a report in Swaddle.

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“Every widow of this village and the country has the right to live respectfully, therefore, all the practices related to widows are being demolished with immediate effect. Simultaneously, an awareness campaign should also be carried out in the village to make people aware of this resolution,” it added.

“We feel very proud of this resolution as it has made Herwad a torch-bearer for other gram panchayats,” Patil told PTI.

The plight of COVID widows

The village decided to end the unprogressive customs after the plight of 12 widows who lost their husbands during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some widows are young with no children and others have children who are not more than 12 years old.

Pramod Zinjade, founder-president of Mahatma Phule Samaj Seva Mandal in Karmala tehsil of Solapur, took the initiative and encouraged the gram panchayat to pass a resolution to ban this “insulting” way to remind a woman that she was a widow.

Speaking to The Times of India, Zinjade said, “We are approaching the MLAs to raise the issue of ‘widow customs’ in the assembly session. There is no legal protection for women who are subject to such practices.”

He has reportedly written a will saying that if he were to pass away his wife should not be pressured to follow such customs.

Monetary help
This is not the only initiative the village has taken for the women who lost their husbands to COVID-19. “We have extended monetary help of Rs 5,000 for the education of their children. Now we felt it was time to end widow ostracism.”

Women in the village are grateful for those behind the campaign. Anjali Pailwan, 35, a resident of Arjunwad village, who lost her husband in 2020, said that she reached out to Zinjade after learning about the initiative.

“I told him about my painful experience of being a widow and expressed my wish to do something for women like me. To start with, from Gudi Padwa [New Year in Maharashtra], I installed ‘gudi’ at my house, wore all the ornaments, and had a haldi kumkum ceremony,” she said.

At least 22,000 COVID widows in Maharashtra

Maharashtra has taken measures to protect women who lost their husbands during the pandemic. In August last year, it launched an intiative to provide relief to COVID widows.

Nearly 22,000 widows registered for the scheme, which made them eligible for 25 government initiatives like the state pension scheme. However, now reports have emerged that the initiative remains on paper and the women have not benefitted from the government’s announcement.

The government had also announced an ex-gratia sum of Rs 50,000 to the families of people who died of coronavirus. But many widows complain that they have not received the sum.

In a country, where discrimination against widows is all too common, the Kolhapur village’s decree to treat them equally is truly inspiring.

With inputs from agencies

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