Widowhood Can Be Very Traumatising And Treating Them As ‘Inauspicious’ Is Inhumane!

In many South Asian cultures, a widow is not allowed to be part of certain religious ceremonies, baby showers or weddings. Apparently, we do not want any of our brides to outlive their husbands, and a widow being present in the ceremony ensures the exact opposite.

During one of our casual conversations, I one day asked my mom why a woman is required to stop wearing colourful clothes, bangles, and everything fancy after the death of her husband. 

“I don’t know, but it doesn’t make any sense, it’s not like we started indulging in all these only after getting married to stop doing them once our marriage ends,” she said, gulping down her last sip of tea.

For women in many South Asian cultures, it all starts with the death of her husband. There is a ceremonious ritual conducted publicly, during which the wife is stripped off her colourful clothes and given a white robe, her bangles are broken, vermillion wiped off her face and in extreme cases, her head is shaved. She is then officially branded a widow and thereafter, to close-minded people, becomes a trademark of everything ominous. 

For starters, she is not allowed to be part of certain religious ceremonies, baby showers or weddings. Apparently, we do not want any of our brides to outlive their husbands, and a widow being present in the ceremony ensures the exact opposite. Some cultures even go to the extent of confining the widow to a single room and stripping her of her dignity and self respect. Even an accidental glimpse of her face is considered bad luck. A widow cannot wear what she wants, cannot eat as she pleases, cannot laugh loudly or speak her mind. She is expected to mourn for the rest of her life, which if she fails to do, becomes a sign of her being a woman with low morality. 

A widow reserves the right to live as she pleases and even pursue future relationships if she chooses to

As heart wrenching as it sounds, some widows somehow think that all this treatment is well deserved and justified. After all, is it not the woman’s bad karma that led to her husband passing away before her? Hence, these women go on with their life cursing their misfortune and abiding by the rulebook written by the society. Also, the fact that even today, most women are economically dependent on their families after the death of their spouses, does not leave them with too many choices.

The death of a partner is a very traumatizing affair for most people. Every woman deserves the right to mourn as she sees fit, without being questioned, judged or being forced through barbaric cultural practices. She reserves the right to live as she pleases and even pursue future relationships if she chooses to. 

Most importantly, a widow does not have to erase all the liveliness out of her life while still alive. If anything, the colours around her need to be much brighter than usual, for her to see that life can still be beautiful.

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About the Author

Tejaswi Vemula

Books, baking and poetry are the three things that have my heart. I have always been a writer and truly believe that a pen is mightier than a sword. Passionate about upliftment, empowerment and safety read more...

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