The Position of Widows in Hindu Society | SUTRA Magazine
Thursday, 23 November, 2017
The Position of Widows in Hindu Society

The Position of Widows in Hindu Society

In Hindu tradition widows can choose to remarry or remain single.

Widows who intend to stay single dedicate their life to the upbringing of their family, to live for a cause or to live in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. If a widow chooses this path she is respected as a brahmacharini (celibate woman dedicated to spiritual pursuits), and is generally enjoined to live a life similar to monastics. One of the signs that they have chosen this path of life is that they wear plain white clothing (though these days many will wear either whitish saris or white saris with designed borders).
Widows who choose not to remarry may also be initiated by a swami to be a sannyasini and may wear yellow or orange saris. These widows follow the tradition of sannyasins, where they do not participate in community functions such as weddings except to observe and give their blessings. They may however, lead prayer groups during holy festivals, give discourses if they are qualified to, and can certainly do pujas and perform arati on such occasions or on any occasion where there is a gathering of people for spiritual purposes.
Widows who intend to remarry will follow the customs of an unmarried girl. Her attire would be what she normally uses, though she is enjoined not to use the red dot on her forehead and as with an unmarried girl, use the black or fashion dot instead. These signify that she is open to marriage proposals.