Abandoned Indian widows have broken taboos and are taking part for the first time in the exuberant annual Hindu festival of colours, said a charity working to end the stigma surrounding the women.
Banished by families after their husbands' deaths for supposedly bringing bad luck, desperately poor widows have for centuries travelled to the northern city of Vrindavan, where the Hindu god Krishna is said to have grown up, to pray and wait to die.
But this year, the widows in Vrindavan, 135 kilometres (80 miles) south of the Indian capital New Delhi, are taking part in the Hindu festival of colours known as Holi, which heralds the advent of spring, Sulabh, a civic charity, said.
"It's a Holi of hope for these women," Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, which works with the widows, told AFP, saying the women would take part in more festival celebrations over the next few days.
On Sunday, hundreds of widows participated in the first day of the festivities which culminate on Wednesday, pelting coloured powder at each other, dancing to traditional Holi songs and showering each other with flowers.
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