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Empowering Widows: From Begging to Self-Sufficiency

(Vrindavan Today) – International Widow’s Day holds a special significance for the widows of this sacred city, as they find hope and self-sufficiency through devotion and government support. Previously surviving by begging, many of these widows are now becoming financially independent.

There are two government-run widow ashrams in Vrindavan and several private ashrams that provide shelter and respect to these elderly women. Among them, the Women’s Shelter House in Chaitanya Vihar accommodates around 300 widows. While most of them hail from West Bengal, there are also women from Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Bihar, who are striving to make a living.

The women residing in the shelter house receive a monthly allowance of Rs 1850, which covers their food and pocket expenses. Additionally, they have been issued Antyodaya ration cards, entitling them to free wheat, rice, and sugar. The government also provides a monthly pension of Rs 1000 to support their financial needs. The morning meals are sponsored by Akshaya Patra, while Santosh Ashram supplies evening tea and toast. The Braj Gandha Prachar Samiti brings flowers from the Bihariji temple to the Ashray Sadan, where these women make incense sticks. They receive training from the committee and are paid Rs 50 per day for their work.

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Srila Prabhupada’s quarters in Vrindavana prior to his coming to the West

Srila Prabhupada’s quarters in Vrindavana prior to his coming to the West

Visnujana Swami | The Hare Krishna Movement