Photo Essays | Society | South Asia

Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Breaking tradition, the widows of Vrindavan get lost in the wonderful colors of Holi.

By Tehreem Fatima for
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A Vrindavan widow breaks tradition and celebrate Holi inside Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Hindu widows throwing flower petals on each other to celebrate the Holi festival.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A widow takes a handful of flower petals to throw.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

During Holi, widows are seen dancing, lost in their own world.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A widow romps with gulal power.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Saffron powder used by the widows to celebrate Holi.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A tourist helps a widow to look through the lens of the camera.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A widow sits in blended colors at Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A Hindu woman holding flowers petals stained with gulal or Holi colors.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

The foot of a widow, stained with daubs of color.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Widows, who are not permitted to wear colorful clothes, break tradition and enjoy the festival of color.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Widows dancing while celebrating Holi.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

A young girl dancing, smeared with color.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Widows, who were once forbidden to participate, rest covered in colored powder during Holi festival at Gopinath Temple in Vrindavan.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima
Bringing Color to the Widows of Vrindavan

Indian Hindu widows smeared with colors celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, at Gopinath temple, in Vrindavan.

Credit: Tehreem Fatima

Holi is a festival of colors celebrated in India. During the celebrations, followers of Hinduism shower colored powders on each other as a mark to bring peace and tranquility.

The festival became even more cheerful on March 9 in the narrow lanes of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, where thousands of widows smeared colors on each other. These widows have been abandoned by their families and have traveled from across the country to stay in the blessings of Lord Krishna. Vrindavan is the revered city of Hindus, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood.

According to tradition, it’s forbidden for a widow to celebrate Holi or even wear colored clothing throughout the year. The special Holi festival last week has been organized every year in Vrindavan for the last few years to break these social shackles.

Celebrations start early, almost a week before Holi proper, in Vrindavan. A huge gathering of widows came to celebrate the festival in Gopinath Temple. These widows, wearing their traditional while saris, were seen smearing colors on each other.

The festival started with the Phoolon wali Holi (Holi of Flowers). All the widows were seen singing bajans, religious songs, and dancing like the Radhas of Lord Krishna.

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After the Holi of Flowers, the atmosphere was filled with gulal, colored powered in different shades. In moments, not only widows but all present were totally deep in the majestic fervor of the festival. More than 1,500 kilograms of gulal and flower petals were arranged for the huge celebration.

The initiative was undertaken by the well-known social reformer and mentor of the Sulabh Movement, Dr. Bindshwar Pathak, who has been taking a keen interest in the welfare of widows and development.

Tehreem Fatima is a Delhi-based freelance photojournalist. She completed her post-graduate diploma in Still Photography and Visual Communication from AJK MCRC, Jamia Milia Islamia.