Holi spreads colours of joy in Braj mandal to dispel Covid gloom

It's festive mood in Sri Krishna land. Ahead of Holi on March 18, temples in Braj mandal have begun to celebrate Holi in a big way, after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic despair. The election results too have buoyed the spirits of the Braj Mandal 'Huriyaras' after a clean sweep by BJP candidates in nine assembly seats in Agra and five in Mathura.

In Vrindavan, hundreds of widows in shelter homes, carrying forward the social revolutionary spirit, defied the age-old restrictive norms, played Holi with gusto at the historic Gopinath Temple on Tuesday. Fighting the Covid-19 gloom, the widows this time gathered at Vrindavan's famous Temple to celebrate Holi with full gaiety.

Till a few years ago, this was simply unthinkable, but breaking the barriers, eminent social reformer and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak initiated efforts to mobilise widows of Vrindavan to celebrate Holi.

A resident said, "Vrindavan's Holi celebrations in recent years have become memorable occasions for the thousands of widows who till in recent past used to face humiliation."

Holi spreads colours of joy in Braj mandal to dispel Covid gloom

The life which was such a dreary drag for most widows, changed for the better at the intervention of the Supreme Court some years ago, when Sulabh was asked to provide support and care to this hapless segment of the society.

Since early morning on Tuesday large numbers of widows living in various shelter homes started gathering at the Gopinath Mandir where they threw heaps of rose and gainda flower petals on the people assembled there.

The Holi celebrations began with much fanfare amid song and dance performances. The widows who wear only white sarees smeared colours and threw gulal on one another to celebrate the festival, breaking away from years of social stigma attached to women who had lost their husbands.

Large amount of "gulal" (dry colour powder) of different colours were arranged by the organisers. Widows who mostly hail from West Bengal splashed colour powers and threw flower petals on each other. They danced and chanted Krinsha bhajans and Holi songs. Widows also shared sweets with each other and enjoyed food.

"Their participation in Holi symbolises a break from tradition which forbids a widow from wearing coloured saree, among many other things," said Bindeshwar Pathak, mentor of Sulabh Movement in a statement.

This special celebration is set to add a new colour to the Holi festivities in 'Braj', popular among both Indian and foreign tourists.

While expressing joy, Gaurvani Dasi termed this celebration as "Holi of Hope" for thousands of widows living in Vrindavan and Varanasi. Chabi Maa and Vimla Dasi expressed great pleasure in celebrating Holi with other mothers. The US based Celebrity Master Chef Vikas Khanna also supported the Holi celebrations.