The Hypocrisy we live in. Why India's culture is failing our widows
India celebrated "Karva Chauth" yesterday. 'Karva Chauth' ( Karva = earthen pot and Chauth = fourth day in Hindi) is a one day ritual of fasting observed by married Hindu women for the longevity and health of her husband. The fast is extremely strict with women not even taking a single drop of water or food, beginning from early sunrise till late evening. They break the fast only after offering prayers when they view the moon through a kitchen sieve and worshiping it to ensure their husbands have a long and healthy life. Karva Chauth is celebrated primarily by women since men are not allowed to participate in the festival's observances until moon rise.
The Indian culture and its rituals have often worked as an instrument of social control of women by men. Karva Chauth happens to be one of the more popular ways of perpetuating the sexist notion that: women are subservient to men. That they have to undergo extreme rituals in order to appease Gods for long life of their men. In Hindu culture a married woman is often called " sumangala" or the harbinger of good luck.
But, what happens when the same woman loses her husband ?
The once 'harbinger of good luck' becomes "Amangala" or the unfortunate one. In fact she is such bad luck now that she is shunned from attending weddings and other auspicious functions lest her bad luck rubs off on other people. She becomes the "husband eater" who the society ostracizes and expects to lead a life of penance.
Vrindavan, the temple town of Northern India is also called "city of widows". A refuge for more than 20,000 widows, this town is swamped with widows from all over the country. Thanks to the active intervention of activists and NGOs, their situation is slowly improving.
But, a little far from Vrindavan, in a "secret" town of another state, lives many widows whose lives continue to be in the shadows. With few people aware of their existence, will these widows continue to live in shame ?
My module 4 multimedia story tries to unravel their mystery and bring to light their condition of living anonymously in this "secret" town.
Watch their story here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPI_jK5RMIs