India is the home of over 55 million widows.
20,000 of them live in a single place,
The City of Widows
With the death of their husbands, widows are considered inauspicious and a burden to their families. Widows are cast out of their homes to beg in the streets. Many then travel thousands of miles for a place of refuge. Most often, that place is Vrindavan, India.
Known as the City of Widows, Vrindavan, India is a small village district with thousands of years of ancient history. Here, resides the largest community of widows in the world, an estimation of up to 20,000 widows who have taken shelter of its holy land. Discarded and neglected by their remaining families, the widows have made a home in a place they hope will protect them. Within Vrindavan's limits are Govardhan town and Radha Kunda, where tens of thousands of pilgrims visit the temples and kundas (holy waters) there. The widows are found sitting on old sacks at the feet of these traveling pilgrims, their begging tins beside them along with what few possessions they own. Lying next to them are often piles of trash left by the pilgrims and locals upon whom their livelihood depends.
Widows sit at the edge of Radha Kunda (a sacred bathing pool) in Govardhan, India next to piles of trash left by locals and pilgrims who visit these holy waters.
With harsh living conditions and social stigmas against them, it's nearly impossible for widows to live outside of begging. Yet, when given the opportunity, these women are vibrant and desire meaningful engagement. Many view their years ahead and hope, despite their abandonment, to continue their lives with substance and value.
So we decided to do something about it.