Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Girls & Women

Indian widows beautifully break a 400-year taboo and celebrate Holi in a temple

Twitter: Ashis Basu

On March 23rd, parts of the world began celebrating Holi, the Hindu holiday welcoming the start of Spring, but some religious followers were unsure if they could participate. Thousands of widowed women had to decide whether to violate a 400-year-old Hindu tradition or stay away from the colorful festivities that happen once a year.

In the end, the women chose to celebrate the spring festival at the Gopinath temple for the first time in Vrindavan. Because who wouldn’t?!

Traditional Hinduism expects widows to renounce pleasure and enjoyment after the death of their husbands and this limits them to a life spent solely in worship. Expected to dress in white and stay away from celebrations, widows are believed to bring bad luck to others and are often seen as inferior. Once a woman becomes a widow, she’s essentially stripped of her identity and pushed into poverty.

The widowed women who participated in the “taboo breaking” have been abandoned by their families, but because they belong to a nearby shelter, they were able to have fun with friends made at the shelter. 

Hindu widows have broken the taboo by participating in Holi festivities before, but this was the first time they did so at a temple and it was beautiful.

A photo posted by Reuters (@reuters) on


A photo posted by ©India Gram (@india_gram) on

Rasia, a widow who lost her husband at the age of 17, now 65, explained her joy in participating in this liberating change. “Times have changed for the good. People no longer look at us as a curse. When I see these young children having no inhibitions in sharing their joys with women like me, I feel very happy,” she said during the Holi celebration.

This was a beautiful moment for the widows and for India. It reminded the world to reject stereotypes and enjoy life when possible. This particular Holi celebration is more than just a colorful time.it symbolises a break from tradition and ultimately empowered women to celebrate who they are.