The Difficulties of Being a Widow in India, Starting from Excommunication to the Tradition of Self-Immolation


A woman who becomes a widow because her husband has died, is of course very sad.

In various parts of the world there are many traditions for a woman who becomes a widow when her husband dies.

One of them is in India. For Indian women who are Hindus, being a widow is very difficult. Because there are some traditions that are not pleasant for a widowed woman. What are the traditions? Here’s the review

Not Participating in Events

In India, widows are considered to have a lower social status. So they are like ostracized.

Many religious rituals are not allowed to be followed. Even forbidden to come to the wedding. Because it is believed to be a resistance to bad luck that might come to the bride and groom.

Must Isolate Yourself

After the death of their beloved husband, these Indian women generally have no choice but to live in an ashram vidhwa (ashram for widows) which is run by the government, private companies, and NGOs.

This follows the Hindu tradition that a widow cannot remarry. She must stay at home, take off her jewelery and dress in mourning colors.

Must be ‘White’ During Life

Some of the most suffering Hindus in India believe that a woman whose husband dies is no longer alive. Because, who is believed to have failed to maintain his soul.

To symbolize their social status as widows, these women must wear white clothes or saris for the rest of their lives.

Hair Shaving Tradition

Not only do they have to wear all white, a woman who holds the status of a widow is forced to renounce everything associated with marriage, such as sindoor, mangalsutra and in extreme cases even jewelry.

In addition, their accessories also have to shave their hair as a symbol of the crown on their body.

For widows in India, hair seems to be a disaster. Therefore, the people on Jalan Vrindavan consist of widows with short or bondol hair.

The Tradition of Self-Immolation

So sacred is the promise of marriage for Indian society, widows in India will carry out the tradition of self-immolation known as Sati (Suttee). In the Sati tradition, when the husband dies, the wife will also take his life away. One way is by setting yourself on fire.

According to Culture Trip, based on an ancient Hindu belief, Sati concludes a marriage. This tradition is done voluntarily, without coercion which means the wife wants to be a devoted partner and follow her husband into the afterlife.

Unfortunately, as time goes by, this tradition becomes something that is ‘forced’. It is said that if the widow is left by her husband and has no children, she will be ‘pressured’ by society to carry out this sati tradition.

Source : Rbtvcamcoha