Widows in Kolhapur village allowed to take part in social and religious rituals
The village panchayat resolved that there would henceforth be no discrimination against widows and no bar on their participation in social and religious rituals
A village panchayat in Kolhapur has taken the lead in ending the isolation of Hindu widows. In a resolution on May 5 the panchayat noted that the widow is required to break her bangles and the mangalsutra, remove her footwear and give up wearing colourful clothes and ornaments. What is more widows are not allowed to participate in social and religious functions.
But the panchayat reversed the tradition by resolving that there would henceforth be no discrimination against widows and no bar on their participation in social and religious rituals. Nor will they be barred from temples.
Social ostracism and isolation, explains the Sarpanch, made the widows feel guilty and depressed for no fault of theirs. The stark conditions adversely affected the physical and mental health of the widows and their children and the practice had to stop. Muktabai Sanjay Pujari, who moved the resolution before the Gram Sabha, explains that the panchayat was moved by the suffering of a large number of young widows whose husbands died of Covid during the last two years. The panchayat was also prodded to take the step by social activist Pramod Zinjade from Solapur, who has been spearheading a movement for the emancipation of widows.
The decision has been received well by adjoining panchayats which have voiced their approval and are likely to follow suit. The panchayat also claims to have received offers from eligible men to marry the young widows The news spread on social media after music director and author Kaushal Inamdar, who hails from Herwad, posted it.
The district administration and the Panchayati Raj ministry of the Government of India have congratulated the gram panchayats. Herwad is showing the way forward, quipped Rupali Chakankar, Chairperson of State Women’s Commission.
Maharashtra’s Women and Child Welfare Minister Yashomati Thakur and NCP MP Supriya Sule have promised to make the Herwad resolution a part of the state’s official policy for women.
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)