Vrindavan, believed to be where Lord Krishna spent his childhood days, is a city of temples. As such, this historical city is an important pilgrim site, attracting many Hindus from across India. The saddest pilgrimage of all to this city, however, is that of the widow.
Known as ‘The City of Widows’, Vrindavan has become the final home for women who have lost their husbands, have been cast out by their families, or are alone in the world. It is estimated that 15,000–20,000 widows are there, but just why Vrindavan’s ashrams have become the final place for so many women is unsure.
The conditions of many of the ashrams that house these women are often derelict and unsafe. Women spend most of their days at the many temples, worshiping, singing, and sometimes begging to make enough money to survive. And while there have been plans to improve the social wellbeing of the widows, little has improved.
The most important and valuable work being done to aid these women are social enterprises and partnerships, which makes them crucial for us to support.
In 2014, after seeing their plight first hand on visit to the area, we became involved in an initiative established by social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak. The initiative sought to empower the Widows of Vrindavan, by teaching them the skills necessary to make our ethical fashion pieces.
The garments created by our new partners, these naturally talented women, gave the widows more than just an income and source of livelihood – it gave them a sense of pride and satisfaction. It is not only a program where everybody profits and flourishes, but one that provides a deeper sense of meaning and purpose to their lives and our ethical fashion brand.
"The Widows of Meera Sahabhagini Ashram in Vrindavan are not flightless birds that are entoiled by the strings of fate. They are survivors. They are warriors."
Initiatives like ours improve the quality of life of the Widows of Vrindavan, by providing them with incomes, and instilling within them a new lease on life – a purpose, an identity.
We are proud to partner with these women. Their strength, resilience, and love is sewn into each garment, and we hope you feel that every time you wear your favourite ethical KOPAL piece.