Guwahati, May 19: Heraldong a new era, Maharashtra's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has banned all ancient 'widow-hood' rituals on grounds that they violate human rights, dignity of women and such practices have no place in the era of modern science.
Rural Development Minister Hasan M. Mushrif issued the official order on Tuesday triggering the social revolution with potential far-reaching implications.
The first sparks were ignited by the Gram Panchayats of two small villages Mangaon and Herwad, Kolhapur district - last fortnight when they resolved to outlaw all such nightmarish practices women who lose their husbands are made to undergo.
The state government said: "The Herwad Gram Panchayat (Kolhapur) has banned rituals of widow-hood by passing a resolution in that regarda Now other gram panchayats should be encouraged."
Mushrif made it clear that such old practices should have no place in a science-oriented era and urged all other gram panchayats to undertake mass awareness campaigns and pass resolutions akin to Herwad Gram Panchayat, a village of around 7,250 souls in Kolhapur.
Signifying a silent social change, on May 1 and May 5, Mangaon Gram Panchayat and Herwad Gram Panchayat, respectively, passed resolutions frowning at the age-old customs imposed on widows - young or old - upon losing their husbands.
These practices include: erasing the sindoor/kumkum (vermilion), removing 'mangalsutra', toe ring and other jewellery, smashing her (green) glass bangles, barring her from wearing coloured clothes and condemning her to whites for the rest of her life.
The widows are further ostracised and stigmatised by preventing them from attending any family, social, religious functions, celebrating festivals openly, interacting with other males, and in some cases, chopping off their tresses, as per traditions handed down since centuries.
Taking a cue from Herwad and Mangaon's initiatives, the MVA government order said that these practices violate human rights, hurt the dignity of women as enshrined in the Constitution and said it's the need of the hour to abolish such customs.