Mohit Gupta | Photo Journal Travel & Documentary Photography Musings

Widows of Vrindavan

Widows of Vrindavan

April 17th, 2011  |  Published in Documentary

Streets of Vrindavan
Photo © Mohit Gupta, All Rights Reserved

Submerged in my thoughts and braving the hot sun I was walking in the Vrindavan bylanes… The train of thought suddenly derailed as I heard a group of women singing a bhajan. As I looked up,  I saw a wrinkled face, drapped in a white sari with a log tilak on forehead, completely lost in thoughts reciting something (as if it has been hard wired in her), sitting by a window of an old house. As I moved closer I knew they were the widows of Vrindavan reciting the evening prayers at an ahsram which would hopefully fetch them some food to eat… I moved ahead, then came back, sat there for a while before I move away again…

This reminded me of a beautiful photo essay titled White Shadows by Tewfic-el-Sawy…

The widows of Vrindavan are probably Hinduism’s one of most ugly realities. Since time unknown this place has become home to thousands of widows who have been abandoned by their families. Some say they are virtually (and spiritually) married to Lord Krishna who now looks after them. Over all these centuries the guardians of Hinduism, in the name of Krishna, have managed to mask lives which exist in abandonment and perennial solitude.

And it’s also Hinduism’s probably one of biggest ironies that on one hand it treats woman as a form of energy (Shakti) and at the same time Manusmriti (Laws of Manu) treats them with disdain and at times as untouchables. Most of the widows here come from Bengal, a state which worships Goddess Kali as her main deity.

Some of these beliefs remain inexplicable. In the end there’s a lot ingrained (and driven) by selfish reasons rather than by faith…


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