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In this month of IWD, Rupa tells us how some people broke the oppressive traditions of widowhood to attain empowerment. A Different Truths exclusive.

Widowed in a cruel road accident, left with two kids, a Hyderabad homemaker in her 30s accepted a job at late design-engineer husband’s company, to keep busy and to pay bills. Fortunately, she had her own home and some compensation package from the tragedy making her self-reliant. However, she points at the plight of widows in community where loved ones, relatives, society and the “unwritten unspoken” undercurrents distance a widow from festive events, weddings, poojas. Many married women are the ones who are protecting themselves by starting their day by avoiding looking at the face of lady that lost or left her partner.

When an educated niece wanted to indulge in the practice by excluding grandmother and her mother, the visiting aunt insisted she apply to all or none, and the formality was dropped altogether.

Today’s educated Science teacher in Hyderabad applies kumkum, vermilion dot to the departing visitors, excludes the widowed ladies there. When an educated niece wanted to indulge in the practice by excluding grandmother and her mother, the visiting aunt insisted she apply to all or none, and the formality was dropped altogether. How will society change when the enlightened, educated perpetuate practices in the name of-older generation is following it and hence we cannot stand up against it.

In Vizag, an elder sister is widowed, instead of standing up against the social misplaced norms, highly educated writer, poet younger sister insists that white sari be worn and symbols of “marital life” be removed, lest people point out. Where is the conscience of martially-blessed sisters and where is sisterhood?

Co-sister-in-law invited the entire clan of deceased brother-in-law but did not include the widowed co-sister, who the man loved and cherished most all his life. How is this loving, honoring, treating with respect the dead or living? Fortunately, her daughter refused to go, unfortunately rest of the family went for that meal.

Recently divorced young mother… found herself a pariah, when her young daughter was sought out for devi celebration and specifically told to not come for the same as she was single-again and divorced.

Recently divorced young mother, liberal in thinking, at Bangalore, found herself a pariah, when her young daughter was sought out for devi celebration and specifically told to not come for the same as she was single-again and divorced. It broke the heart of young lady, who was already burdened by lifestyle downgrade heaped on her daughter due to decision made after a decade to quit the abusive relationship. Fortunately, she put her foot down that they two would be a package, if one is invited other comes or vice versa. Today, she has found love with a childhood friend, who witnessed her journey and cherishes the two together. He proposed to the two when wanting to partner up for life – that is touching.

An Andhra University professor allowed his daughters to study well but unlike sons, girls had no rights to a social life, limiting their view of society, and choices they could make. Fortunately, she found her place as a career girl, wife, and mother and balances it all with no regrets.

Three decades back, army-doctor dad asserted, no invitation would be accepted by him unless his widowed daughter at home was invited.

Three decades back, army-doctor dad asserted, no invitation would be accepted by him unless his widowed daughter at home was invited. In south of India this is close to blasphemy and he is my hero. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law insisted on applying vermilion dot to the young and older widows, who resisted flowers in hair or vermilion dot as society was unaccepting of it. My mother was protected by elder daughter-in-law from savagery of removal of “marital symbol” ritual as she stood firm against it.

Empowerment is not a big announcement, but small acts that translate into new beginnings

Empowerment is not a big announcement, but small acts that translate into new beginnings with one attitude – a change at a time starting with self and behavior toward other. Sisterhood should reflect in empathetic compassion against the blind-practices, attitudes, cruelty many next to us are subjected to. The single again by choice or due to fate need the balm of acceptance, understanding, support, and love, not to be treated as outcasts and kept away from certain days of week or to avoid for events. Their hearts are filled with unfathomable love, blessings, and prayers due to their first hand relationship with pain of loss, colossal changes and new normal in life.

Empowerment word is big, steps to empower self and others take less than a blink of an eye, always starting with self.

©Rupa Rao

Photos sourced by the author

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