Before I start this article, I want to ask few questions to all intelligent people.
- What do you think about white color?
- Which color is recommended for people having single or divorce status?
- Do you really believe a color should be associated with the marital status?
Yes, you got my point. I want to raise voice against custom of wearing white clothes for widows. In Hindu religion, a widow has to wear white clothes for her rest of life. She can’t attend many auspicious functions as people consider them wretched.
Few days ago, one of my relatives passed away. His whole family got shattered. I saw everything, his dead body lying on the floor and people around talking about the funeral customs and procedure. Everything was very painful. I saw a very cruel truth of life. All charms of life gone in few seconds. Relatives and neighbors, everyone was there around the family. They were consoling the family that “Keep some patience” “Everything will be fine”. I felt bit relaxed that at least people understand their grief.
The final journey started for him. All family members cried and requested him to come back. I guess, they were hoping to get back him till the last moment. I also wished if some magic would happen and he could come back. But this is one of the things in life which we can’t get back.
Next few days were very difficult. The house was full of emotional damage and tears. But life never stops. It had to move on. After twelve days, all relatives left for their homes. Everyone’s life got resumed in couple of weeks except the one, his wife. She was still in white clothes which was given to her by the people of the society. It was one of the rituals which happened on third day of the demise. I objected that day but my elders said that it is just a custom. I thought it would be only for twelve days. But I was wrong.
It has been more than a year and I have never seen the lady wearing any other color except white. I decided to convince her to try colors again.
‘I have bought new nail paint for you. Give me your hand. I’ll apply it on your nails. It will look good on your nails,’ I said.
‘No, I can’t apply nail paint or wear any cosmetic,’ she said.
‘Okay, if you don’t wish. Let’s go for a movie,’ I said.
‘No, I can’t go for movie,’ she replied.
‘Okay, at least we can go to a restaurant,’ I said.
‘No, I can’t go,’ she said.
‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you torturing yourself?’ I asked.
‘You won’t understand,’ she said.
‘Explain, I’ll try to understand,’ I said.
‘I want him back. I can’t live without him. I don’t want anything else except him,’ she said.
‘I wish I could bring him back for you,’ I said. ‘But how this torture will help you?’
‘I am a widow and I have to live like this only,’ she said.
‘And, how did you decide this?’ I asked.
‘Society has already decided,’ I said.
‘About your life,’ I said. ‘Really?’
‘Yes,’ she said.
‘So, society will decide about your life. I mean you are going to live this way for the rest of your life. This is wrong,’ I said.
‘I am helpless, I can’t change it even If I want to,’ she said.
‘This is twenty first century and people have changed… their mentality levels have changed… no body follows such killing customs these days,’ I said.
‘You are saying this because you haven’t seen this side of life. But this is the reality that number of widows are living this life,’ she said.
I also tried to speak to other family members so that they could convince her but nobody could understand the kind of life she is living… no, I mean kind of life she is spending.
Don’t you think this is a punishment for a crime which she hasn’t committed?
Is it correct to force someone to live a lifeless life?
Do you believe this is the only way by which she should show her pain for the loss?
I mean If she is in pain it should show by wearing white clothes or not wearing cosmetics or not going out. Let me put it more specifically she should not have fun.
Is this a characteristic of an ideal widow?
Now, I will hear that the society has changed and many women are not following this custom but that is just a minor number.
This is one more disease of our customs. Let’s think for a second, who are we to ask someone to live this type of life? We don’t have right to expect anyone to live according to our wishes. We are the society and we can’t expect a woman to live a dead life. This would be definitely an unforgivable sin.
Widow is just a status like single, married and divorced. It is not a sin for which you punish the lady who is already in pain. We need to support them, that’s what they really need. We need to show them the way to start their life again. If a single woman or a man can wear colorful clothes so a widow also has the same right. This should not be related to marital status. This is a basic right of every human being. If widower status doesn’t affect a man’s life so it should also not affect a woman’s life.
And let me tell you this custom has been followed in many other religion/countries. Colors might be different across the religion/countries. Some have few days of punishment and some have lifetime punishment.
Why is white recognized as lifeless?
It is just a color like other colors. I hope I have showed you clear picture of a mass section of our women who are still suffering from this obsolete custom. Many people say that they don’t object widow of their family for anything but that’s not enough because the way people look at widows that need to be changed. This is not about pity. This is about their right. It is not related to a woman who lost her husband at the age of 30, 40 or at the age of 60. We need to end this white clothes custom for widows. This is not the way to show your pain and you don’t need to show it to anyone.
Let’s make white beautiful not a curse.