1. Smashed bangles and no red sarees, India’s widows face colourless life

Smashed bangles and no red sarees, India’s widows face colourless life

In some Indian communities, widows are made to go on a bland diet devoid of onions, garlic and meat which are believed to excite desire. Sweet food may also be forbidden.

By: | Mumbai | Published: June 21, 2016 4:13 PM
The government is expected to offer better protection for the country's more than 46 million widows in a new policy for women's empowerment. (PTI) The government is expected to offer better protection for the country’s more than 46 million widows in a new policy for women’s empowerment. (PTI)

India has the greatest number of widows in the world, but many face abuse, violence, property theft and even enslavement, according to rights campaigners.

The government is expected to offer better protection for the country’s more than 46 million widows in a new policy for women’s empowerment. Ahead of International Widows’ Day on Thursday, here are some facts about widows in India.

RITUALS

The red sindoor on her forehead and in the parting of her hair, one of the signs of marriage, is wiped clean. In some cases, all her jewellery is removed and her glass bangles are smashed. Other traditions that are becoming less common include shaving the widow’s head and giving her a ritual bath, after which she may be forbidden from wearing colourful sarees, and only allowed to wear white or pale colours.

DIET

In some communities, widows are made to go on a bland diet devoid of onions, garlic and meat which are believed to excite desire. Sweet food may also be forbidden.

REMARRIAGE

Widow remarriage was traditionally frowned upon and is still rare in rural areas, even though there are no laws against it.

SUPERSTITION

Widows are generally considered inauspicious and aren’t allowed to participate in festivals, weddings or other celebratory social occasions.

STIGMA

Widows sometimes get branded as witches, especially if their husband died young or suddenly. Scores of single and widowed women are killed every year in states including Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa after being branded as witches. Some states have introduced legislation against witch-hunting.

PROPERTY INHERITANCE

When a man dies, his wife rarely inherits his property, except in some states like West Bengal and Kerala, which have matriarchal set-ups. Many widows are even cast out of the home and forced to live in an outhouse. In some cases, widows are sent to their parents’ house.

SATI

In the past, widows would jump into their husbands’ funeral pyres. Some did this voluntarily but others were forced. Sati was banned by the British as early as 1829, but the practice continued in some states. A new law was passed in 1988 to criminalise the aiding or glorification of sati after the immolation of Roop Kanwar, an 18-year-old bride, in Rajasthan state.

Calculate your income tax post budget 2018 through this Income Tax Calculator, get latest news on Budget 2018 and Auto Expo 2018. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

  1. No Comments.

Go to Top