For the first time abandoned Indian widows have broken taboos and are taking part in Holi, the exuberant annual Hindu festival of colours, said a charity working to end the stigma surrounding the women. Banished by families after their husbands' deaths for supposedly bringing bad luck, desperately poor widows have for centuries travelled to the northern city of Vrindavan, where the Hindu god Krishna is said to have grown up, to pray and wait to die. But this year, the widows in Vrindavan, 135 kilometres (80 miles) south of the Indian capital New Delhi, are taking part in the Hindu festival of colours known as Holi, which heralds the advent of spring, Sulabh, a civic charity, said. "It's a Holi of hope for these women," Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, which works with the widows, told AFP, saying the women would take part in more festival celebrations over the next few days. On Sunday, hundreds of widows participated in the first day of the festivities which culminate on Wednesday, pelting coloured powder at each other, dancing to traditional Holi songs and showering each other with flowers. "In this Holi we are celebrating we are trying to free these widows from the shackles of tradition," said Pathak. The women, cast off by relatives who see them as a financial drain and consider even their shadows a curse, have traditionally sung hymns and begged in the pilgrimage city on the banks of the Yamuna River. "The 'shame' of widowhood is still very strong in some traditional quarters -- they aren't allowed to celebrate, attend marriages, they're supposed to live in seclusion, shave their heads and dress in white," Pathak explained. "It is essentially a form of life imprisonment for these widows," he said, whose plight was depicted in the 2005 Oscar-nominated film "Water". Sulabh, which has done pioneering social work in India in sanitation and other fields, was tasked by the Supreme Court last August to work with the women after reports of widows' bodies being put in sacks and thrown in the river. Sulabh has been providing a monthly allowance of 2,000 rupees ($40) a month to 700 widows and teaching skills but is reaching only a small number of the estimated 15,000 widows said to be living in Vrindavan. The women who took part in Holi celebrations Sunday said the day was special. "We used to watch men and women play Holi from the windows of our ashram (secluded community). The celebrations of the town are legendary," Pushpa Adhikari told the Times of India.Source: AFP << Android Application Developed to Monitor Stress Sexually Abused or Neglected Adolescent Girls Face Higher Ri... >> Recommended Reading Shatavari Shatavari or Asparagus racemosus is a popular herb aptly called the "Female Health Formula". It is a very important herb for women's overall health and vitality. READ MORE Menopause Menopause is defined as the state of permanent cessation of menstrual cycles (periods) for 12-months. READ MORE Ovulation Ovulation is the time when an egg or ovum is released by female ovary, usually midway during the menstrual cycle. The ovulation calendar helps to calculate the time of ovulation. READ MORE Using Artificial Colors During Holi Could Cause Skin and Eye Infections Leading doctors have urged people to ensure that the colors they use are natural as the toxic chemicals in artificial colors can lead to skin or eye infections. READ MORE Christmas Feast, It’s always Grand with Cake and Wine Christmas is celebrated as a religious and cultural festival by billions of people around the world. READ MORE Holi Colors: How to Clean Your Face After Holi? You are having Holi fun with colors and then comes clean up time to protect your skin. Learn easy ways to get rid of holi colors that can harm your skin if there are chemicals in the colors. READ MORE Most Popular on Medindia Color Blindness Calculator Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Drug Side Effects Calculator More News on: Christmas Feast, It’s always Grand with Cake and WineHoli Colors: How to Clean Your Face After Holi?