These photos are from the archives of the Indian Express 2013 and capture moments from when women who are widows were allowed to join the Holi celebrations.
They say “ Breaking the shackles of tradition, around 800 widows played Holi with gulal and flowers in the land of Lord Krishna, Vrindavan in four-day Holi celebrations that began on March 24.
Vrindavan Holi is an effort to free widows from the shackles of age-old tradition. Not only will the widows play Holi, they will also participate in cultural programmes.
The widows feel such celebrations would prove to be an unprecedented step towards ending social prejudice against them. The event this year may need some amount of change in the mindset of the society.
However, the ‘breaking’ of traditions by widows in Vrindavan has drawn criticism from a section of religious leaders who believe that it is an ‘infringement of our ancient culture’.
In the past, widows living in the ashrams could have played Holi only with Thakurji (Lord Krishna).
A veteran in the popular Ram Lila act, Shankar Lal Chaturvedi criticised the event, saying, ‘The manner in which they smeared face of each other with gulal is not good.’ ”
The photos show the women (who are widows) praying, tossing flowers and generally celebrating Holi at at the Meera Sahavagini ashram in Vrindavan.