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The condition of women before the Widow Remarriage Act was awful and they felt unheard. However, things changed gradually for them.
As they were often seen together in public, our family got more peeved. My grandmother branded her own daughter as a shameless slut. As if she was committing adultery, even though she was a widow with no husband around.
My mother tried hard to dissuade me, but I refused to relent. Our neighbour was then called in, and she appeared even more shocked at the prospect of participating in my Valaikaapu than my mother had been.
They made her feel that she had committed a grave blunder by stepping out to enjoy. The guilt of not mourning properly weighed down heavily on her.
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.
A surly woman tutted, “tsk… her first Karva Chauth, and see how it ended.” “Do you think the Chowdhurys are a cursed family? First Lata, and now Kusum…” whispered another.
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