'For many women, becoming a 'widow' does not just mean the' heartache' of losing a husband, but of losing everything else as well' 

- Cherie Blair

It 'disheartens' me and will 'dishearten' all those people who will be reading forth in the article regarding the 'plight of widows'. It's mandatory for all us to know this 'saddening story' as this very society, which we make up is the 'generator of this pathetic and traumatising lament'. Before, diving into the 'laments of widowhood', we must know as to who is a 'widow'?

A widow is a woman who has lost her spouse , a 'husbandless' woman more appropriately. In India, the widows are commonly referred as' Vidhwa' derived from Sanskrit word , 'Vidh' meaning 'to be destitute'. A woman in India would prefer choosing 'death' than becoming a 'widow' as the 'rituals and customs following widowhood are very painful and frightening'. They are forced to remove their toe-ring (bichiya). Their bangles are destroyed and broken. They are forcefully asked to remove the 'vermilion' on their foreheads, their 'mangalsutra' is too thrown away. On the tenth day of the Terahvin (13 days of funeral rites), all these incidents are manifested happening with the widow. In some orthodox families, the maternal family of the woman comes to give her' a plain and white saree'. Unlike the western countries, where 'black' is considered to be a colour of mourning. In India, 'white colour' acts as a symbol of 'mourning'. The widow is expected to wear attires of only 'subdued colours'. They aren't allowed to dress up or make up themselves . The society makes shambles of the life of widow. They are even asked to shove their heads. This all is done in order to make the widow 'ugly' and most importantly to give her a 'perpetual sign of lamentation'.

Since , ancient India and crossing till the medieval ages, the practise of self-immolation of the widow (Sati) was practiced. This practice was banned in 1828 by Lord William Bentinck largely due to the efforts of Raja Rammohan Roy. The widows were hardly allowed to re-marry. Marriage for the widows was always an affair opposed by the conservative and orthodox section in the society. The widows carrying 'children' didn't marry themselves as they were apprehended with the fears and problems that her 'children' would have to face in case of her second marriage. Some widows retired from the social life and crusaded on a strenuous path of celibacy to attain 'salvation'. In India, it is expected by the society that the widows must continue her 'remaining life' only mourning over the loss of her spouse. In some families, the blame regarding the' death of the husband' is completely pinned on them.

In the Indian society , the widows are outcasted from the society. They have become 'scapegoats' of the orthodox and conservative mindset in the society. They aren't allowed nor are invited to be a part of some social gathering, rituals and ceremonies. Some superstitions say that their shadow can inflict havoc on family and is detrimental for everybody. They are considered to be symbolic of 'bad luck'. Some say that it is omnious to see a widow at the very onset of the day. They aren't allowed to have a common dine with family. They are asked to cook their food separately to the extent that they have to prepare only' simple and a normal food and not delicacies'. Earlier, they weren't allowed to draw water from wells. A widow shall never bath with the 'suhagins'. She shall not observe the fasts of the married womans such as Teej, Karwachauth, etc. The widows are completely abandoned. Only a few families care about them. Generally, they lack family support. A barbaric treatment is meted out to these ill-fated women. Some of them have to even part with the jewellery, they had received at the time of their first wedding. She should leave all the comforts, luxuries and leisure of life and should head towards' learning to live alone while engrossed in drudgery'. They have to live a life of 'homelessness'. They are ostracized in society and have to suffer issues of 'untouchability'. Recent reports have suggested that an Indian woman who survives to old age is almost certain to become a widow.

The widows are poverty stricken and are reduced to the status of 'street beggars'. They join as servants, domestic helpers to earn livelihood. In the event of dire consequences, the widows in order to sustain themselves have to do some works challenging their dignity and self respect. The clouds of 'economic insecurity' are always on their heads, ready to pour 'tars' of problems and hurdles. Many of them fell as victims to 'prostitution'. There have been instances where the widows are beaten, abused and even murdered in some families.

Child widows is again a challenging and a negative characteristic within the society. The child widows already having faced the trauma of 'child marriage' are too small to understand the 'plight of being a widow'. Still, child widows are also into clutches of old superstitions and practice associated with widows. The traditional societies in India are pushing the widows into a world of 'solitary confinement'. Let alone in India, be it the western or the eastern hemispheres of the world, the trauma, grief, agony and distress for the widow is more or less the same'. An American poet 'Sylvia Plath' once said, 'Widow, the word consumes itself'. There have been instances of discrimination happening with widows in African states. There is a noticeable distinction seen in the discrimination meted out to the 'widower' and the 'widow'.

The lamenting or rather horrifying story totters the humanity apart. The 'topsy-turvy' for the widows need to be eradicated. Welfare schemes and employment opportunities should be framed. The Supreme Court of India after taking into consideration ordered the government and civic agencies to ameliorate the lives of women in 'Vrindavan'. Vrindavan, the Holy Abode of Lord Krishna also serves as the abode for the homeless widows. Hence, Vrindavan is also known as 'City of Widows'. The property claims of the widows must be clearly asserted. The widows should be given a chance to marry. But this marriage should happen only on the basis of a mutual consent. 

The statement of Cherie Blair can be well perceived in the note, I will say that despite the structural and functional changes that are made to alleviate the sufferings and struggles of the widows. Most importantly is the change that should be brought in terms of 'outlook'. Patriarchy shouldn't remain the directing authority in a woman's affair. Improvement in the status of widows is significant again so as to come close to the tenets of woman empowerment. We need to understand the basic thing that neither anybody in this world has come together nor anybody will depart together. Marriage is simply an affinal relationship and one of the spouse shall die before the other one always. No one dies together. Hence, understanding of this basic law of nature will help us in taking a step eradicating this' social evil'. The very society that has generated this evil has the power and ability to demolish the roots of it. We need to understand that Widowhood is not a 'matter of choice' but a 'matter of fate'. Let's join together in the movement curbing the struggles and issues faced by the widows all over the world. 

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