Widows in India
By Omar Rais

April 08, 2007
India is a land of culture and customs. Almost everything that happens in India is a part of the Indian culture. It is one of the most ancient pieces of land, known for more than 10,000 years. The different states in India have their own languages, cultures, customs and people and most importantly, castes (Hindu population). All castes have one main religion, Hinduism. It is the third most practiced religion in the entire world.
Many years ago, people living in India did not treat women with the equality that they treated men with. For example, the women in India, hundreds of years before the British rule, were not allowed to go to the marketplace unaccompanied by a male. Many young girls were not allowed to study any further than elementary school because they were supposed to get married by that time. In spite these barriers, some powerful women did find the light of equality. Razia Sultana became the only female monarch to have ever ruled Delhi, from 1236 till 1240, when she was murdered.
The medieval period worsened the position of a woman in the society. Sati, child marriages and other practices were passed down generations after generations. The Muslim subcontinent in India brought the purdah. Purdah literally mean ďcurtainĒ. It is the practice of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and their form from male eyes. It signifies, apart from wearing a veil, restrictions on mobility of women, curtailment of their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of subordination of women. Now, it is a declining tradition in India, practiced mostly by Muslims voluntarily. Rajputs of Rajasthan practiced jauhar. Jauhar is to practice voluntary immolation of daughters and wives of defeated and dead warriors so that they couldnít be captured and killed like their husbands and fathers. The medieval period for the women in India was definitely hard times.
The main reason why Iím writing this long and boring (for you, I am sure) article is to raise awareness about the widows in India and their ignored rights. Ever since the medieval ages, widows have constantly been ignored in the Indian society. In Hinduism, the identity of a woman is only recognized when she is with a man, but without a man, the women are just poor and old singers on the sidewalk of temples. Hinduism does not allow widows to remarry. Over the years many questions have been raised against this religious demand. Should a woman be allowed to remarry and thus live a safe, happy and honorable life? HmmÖI think thatís like asking if she should be allowed to live. Marriage is a very beautiful bond and every woman should have a right to it.
We should all unite to help make the lives of the widows in India better by providing them with money, a proper shelter, food and clothing, and the basics of living. Would you not allow a woman in your family to remarry? Would you be so unrealistic as to classify widows as nobody?
Widows donít choose to live their lives the way they are living them right now and they donít choose to be widows. It just happens. Help these women live a better life.


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