February 13, Holi. This is how you color freedom – Indian Widows break centuries of Taboo in vibrant Holi celebration

In one Holi celebration, one thousand widows came together in a visually stunning act of joyful defiance.

Typically, Holi—like most other festivals—is forbidden for Hindu widows.  They are believed to bring bad luck. Widows are expected to dress only in white and to stay away from the Festival of Colors.

“A widow must not dress in colors or make herself pretty because that would be inappropriate to her new role as eternally diminished mourner. A widow must eat only bland food, in small portions, because richness and spice would stir passions she should never again experience,” reported National Geographic in a February feature about global widowhood.

Nevertheless, on March 9, a rebel group of widows in Vrindavan, northern India, joined in the fun of Holi

NGO Sulabh International, which provides services and shelter to widows, has started organizing public Holi celebrations for these banished women.

Varanasi and Vrindavan are called the cities of Widows.  
Women shunned after the deaths of their husbands are often abandoned there or go voluntarily to seek refuge in ashrams.

You can see the transformation in the following images as they dance in over 1,400kg of flower petals and 1,000kg of colored powder.

Local priest Ram Gopal said: “Such fervor has never been witnessed before. They were so excited and flipped; many joined in group dances, singing merrily and loudly cheering every now and then.”

One rebel widow was octogenarian Manu Ghosh who has lived in an ashram since she lost her husband at the age of 37.

“The only wish I have is to celebrate this festival with fervor till the time I live on this earth,” she said.