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The Curse of Being a Widow in India

Antonia R.Antonia R.
Indian Woman

There's an old superstition in India, according to which if a woman becomes a widow she must throw herself into the same fire where the body of her deceased husband is burned, according to tradition. If she lives, a harsh fate awaits her.

It is if no importance to society whether she has kids that would become orphans after her ritual suicide. According to custom, the spouse has no right to continue living after her husband has died.

Girls in India are taught from a young age how to be a good wife, how to take care of the house and care for their husband. The idea that without their men they are useless is also impressed upon them.

Widows are believed to carry bad luck and if they refuse to commit suicide after their husband's death, they are exiled from the populated area they had been living in.

The majority of women in India are uneducated and turn to begging or prostitution to make a living. They also offer housemaid services but are rarely hired, especially if they are widows. These women also become victims of rape most often.

The majority of girls in the country get married as early as their teen years and some of them end up becoming widows at 20 years of age.


They have no right to see their own children or return to their parents after the death of their husband.

Unofficial data indicates that there are about 40 million widows in the country and for reasons currently unknown, many of them travel to the town of Vrindavan, coming from different parts of India.

Other women in society begin treating them as "its", implanting in them the idea that they are sexless creatures. In some areas, they are called women who have eaten their husband.

Since no easy fate lies in store for them, the greater part of them decide to put an end to their life shortly after their partner dies, even though officially the superstition is currently considered to be discontinued.