MATHURA: Nearly 50 elderly widows lit earthen lamps and offered prayers on the banks of river Yamuna in Vrindavan here on Wednesday as they celebrated Diwali.
Till last year, thousands of widows clad in white sarees came together to celebrate the festival of lights. However, the gathering this year was much smaller in view of the restrictions imposed to check the spread of COVID-19.
These women celebrate Diwali, which falls on November 14 this year, two to three days before the rest of the country.
The celebration was held at KC Ghat along the Yamuna. Laxmi Devi, who came to Vrindavan in 2019, said she was happy to have joined others in celebrating the festival.
"I was in Titagarh (in West Bengal) and had no one to call family after my husband passed away. I worked in people's houses and was at their mercy even for food. Celebrating a festival was unimaginable for me there," Laxmi, in her sixties, told PTI over the phone.
Shanti's experience was no different. "It feels really good. We celebrate Diwali here every year. This time only some of us could come to the ghat, others would be lighting diyas at the ashrams," said Shanti, who is fondly called 'Shanti maa' by her peers.
Shanti, almost 70 years old, came to Vrindavan from Varanasi over a decade ago. This is the eighth year when the widows symbolically participated in the celebration of the festival of lights, according to the Sulabh Hope Foundation, an NGO which supports these women.
"On a routine basis, Sulabh provides them medical facilities and vocational training besides meeting their day-to-day needs so that they do not feel left out during the twilight years of their lives," said Vinita Verma, the foundation's vice president.