Holi celebrations at Maitri Ghar began with loud beats of drums, showers of flower petals and splash of colors energizing everyone present in the room. Amidst music and soulful singing, the widow mothers danced gracefully, splashed each other with color and rejoiced over this cultural heritage.
About 100 widows living in Maitri’s Old Age Home had been preparing and anxiously waiting for this day. Every festival is good and enjoyable but Holi is special for them. Celebrating Holi means breaking traditions that forbid them from touching color or rejoicing in festivity. These widow mothers have come a long way. They understand it is their basic right to be happy, express joy and celebrate festivals.
This Holi, and every Holi since 2010 , the widows of Maitri’s Project Jeevan have been able to step outside of the social stigma that surrounds them. Being widows, these women are restricted from celebrating Holi, a celebration that is near and dear to their culture and is a part of their Indian Heritage. Despite the stigma, Maitri believes that these women deserve to be able to participate in the celebration with full enthusiasm, colors, singing and dancing—in hopes of bringing joy back to this celebration.
This year, to celebrate Holi, Maitri arranged for about 30 of its children, students, interns, staff and teachers from two different communities in which we work to gather together and celebrate Holi with the Widows of Maitrighar in Vrindavan. Upon arrival, we were welcomed with music, drums, flowers flying overhead, color and loving hugs and smiles.
The Holi celebration is a wonderful insight into the love that these widows have for their heritage and culture despite the social stigma that they are supposed to comply with. With self-respect and pride, the widows showed everyone what it really meant to celebrate life with a smile and many colors on their face, flowers in their hair, and joy once again flowing through the room.
They cared for those who had never participated in Holi before and showed them a good time. Regardless of age, background, stories, nationality, etc. every single person at this celebration was able to forget our worries and connect with one another while we danced, tossed flowers and decorated one another’s faces with color. Not only were we able to have fun and welcome Spring, but we were able to grow together as a Maitri family and community.
This Holi, these women were no longer social outcasts but rather part of a family and a community that encourages each other to have confidence and respect for themselves, when the rest of their society suggests otherwise.
Consider supporting the widow mothers of Vrindavan, by following the link and donating: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/old-age-home-for-abandoned-elderly-women-in-india/