Our traditions are nice to follow, feels great too. But what about the orthodox traditional practices, those that are harsh and follows discrimination? Most of the times you’ll find the “Thekedars” of these traditions saying it’s in shastras knowing well that common man might not have in-depth knowledge about our shastras. Nowhere in our shastras there is any sort of discrimination. And many such discriminations are attached to our Widows.
We had the shameful tradition “Sati Pratha” at one time. Thankfully it has been eradicated now. This too was marked as a “Hindu Ritual” and widows were made to follow. But that is nowhere true as far as our shastras goes. The term Sati is derived from the original name of the goddess Sati, who self-immolated because she was unable to bear her father Daksha’s humiliation of her husband Lord Shiva. Later Sati became a term in our shastras for women in Hindu mythology who were exceptionally devoted to their husbands and righteous. Property tussles was the root reason behind this practice, with male heirs preferring to do away with a widow, leaving the inheritance entirely in their hands. The Brahmin who helps in the burning would get a hefty share so they brought forward all theories on glorifying Sati Pratha.
Sati Pratha was ended but there still remained many discriminatory practices. A widow was expected to stay away from all festivities, renounce all earthly pleasures, wearing only white, shave off hair, and eat veg food. For big majority of widows life was more like “Living sati”. Many of these taboos have been reformed but complete reform is still awaited.
Sanatan Dharma or as its now referred to – Hinduism, allows breaking of obsolete and outdated traditions. People should modulate religion and not the other way around. Unfortunately today in every religion, so called champions or “Thekedars” of religion, in lust for power wants it to benefit them. And it’s done so that they can control people.
Widows or Women to be specific, were never disliked in Sanatan Dharma until core values were corrupted by few so called “Thekedars” of religion (just like other religions). Females were always respected in Sanatan Dharma and were always considered as equal to men. One of the forms of Lord Shiva is Ardh-nari-eshawar where left part of body is male and right part is female symbolizing that male and female are equal. But unfortunately, man being physically stronger enforced rules over women to keep them in their shadow.
It’s time to break away from the shackles of illogical traditions! Old traditions, which have no sanction in our shastras and were made just for the benefit of a section of society, need to go away. Hinduism is an open ended way of living, always open to reformation. And one such reform has now taken place in Vrindavan ashrams for widows. There are thousands of widows, shunned by their families, living here. With the help of few NGOs, these widows have now started playing Holi. The taboo of widows not allowed to play Holi is a distant past for them. A great step towards a positive and a very much needed change has started. Hope we get to see more such changes in our society when it comes to discriminations!!!