Varanasi:  The widows of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh will send 1,000 hand-made, colourful rakhis and sweets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made his debut into the Lok Sabha from this holy city, an NGO said.

Hundreds of old widows who are spending the twilight years of their lives in ashrams here will send rakhis to their “new brother”, an official of Sulabh International said.

Among these, a dozen-odd widows, all in their 80s, in Birla and Durgakund ashrams are are presently engaged in making the rakhis.

Also, a group of Nepalese elderly widows in Meera Sahabhagi and Chetan Vihar ashrams are busy in rakhi making. They started in the last week of July and have so far prepared around 500 such sacred bands that a sister ties on the brother’s wrist on the casion of rakhi.

“We have planned a target of sending around 1,000 rakhis to our prime minister,” said a 80-year-old widow of Birla ashram.

The widows will also tie rakhis to local saints and brahmins to mark the occasion, Sulabh spokesman Madan Jha told IANS.

In places like Varanasi and Vrindavan, hundreds of widows lead an isolated life and often live in small rooms in narrow alleys. In the absence of family support, they spend most of their time praying and looking for food.

After the death of their husbands, widows at times face humiliation and insult from the family. They are asked not to be present on auspicious functions in the family. They are also not supposed to wear coloured clothes or ornaments.

“My idea is how to change thoughts, behaviour and attitude of people of this country towards widows of India who are their mothers, sisters…,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International.

The NGO takes care of around 1,500 widows in Varanasi, Vrindavan and the Kedarnath valley.

Nearly 900 widows and some 200 children from various schools of Delhi and Mathura-Vrindavan will take part in rakhi celebration at Meera Sahabhagini ashram Aug 9.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at )

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