Plight of Hindu widows

It is very encouraging to learn that some of the top Bollywood actresses are taking active part in the emancipation of Hindu women who are still victims of centuries-old anti-woman Hindutva culture. Shabana Azmi is very active in spreading the breast cancer awareness among the Indian women and Preity Zinta blasted Hindu religious teachings and Hindu elites for “the dire plight of India’s oppressed and neglected widows” during a press conference in New Delhi on January 13, 2010.

“I am a Hindu and I would like to say I think religion is always interpreted by various different people and the greatest reason for misinterpreting religion is greed. ”

In Hindu society, a widow is not allowed to remarry or even wear colorful clothes or jewellery. Widows are outcasted as witches and considered impure and burden on family and Hindu society in large. Some of the widows were forced to shave their heads and were blamed for the ‘untimely’ death of their husbands. India is home to world’s largest widow population (34 million or 8% of total women population). Many of these widows end up working as prostitutes to survive. Ironically, in the same Hindu society, where cow is worshipped and cared both by the government and religious organizations.

“The Dalits (untouchable Hindus) account for 165 million of India’s one billion-plus human population. The population of cows is pegged at 206 million. There are more cows than Dalits in India. The cows therefore, have more rights tha Dalits. For instance, you can kill Dalit before thousands of witnesses and get away with it. But the imagined murder of a cow will not be suffered. The state promotes the drinking of cow urine and dung, while Dalits are forced to eat the shit and piss of caste Hindus,” – S. Anand, Outlook India.

Another inhuman treatment carried out on Hindu women in the past was religious ritual of Sati or a widow immolating herself on her husband’s funneral pyre. Muslims rulers in India avoided to interfere in this disgusted Hindu ritual – but British colonialists banned the practice in 1829 CE. However, it were the anti-Sati campaign carried out by Rajaram Mohan Roy and Gandhijee which succeeded in eradicating this cruel practice to a large extent. It’s still practiced in some of the remote areas of India, but rarely reported in the press.

Preity has been appointed an Ambassador for the UK-based charity ‘Loomba Trust’, which has been involved in education over 2300 children of Indian widows. The Trust was established by Raj Loomba in memory of her mother Pushpa Wati Loomba in 1997. Mrs. Loomba became widow at the age of 37 and had to raised her seven children single-handed.

Like Judaism and Christianity – a Hindu woman, once married, is not entitled to inheritance from her parents. Contrary to that – marrying a widow is commanded as a great charity in Islam while daughters married or unmarried are entitled to inheritance from their parents.


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