Shunned, mistreated and abandoned — widowed women in many parts of India still face regressive customs.
A native of Uttarakhand, Dipti Joshi lost her husband at a young age, which put the entire responsibility of supporting her family of three on her shoulders.
To make ends meet, she opened a tiny tea-stall along the roadside in Kumaon hills. However, with only a few customers, who were mostly truck drivers or travellers on road trips, halting at her shack, she barely managed to eke out a living.
Additionally, her stall was dull in appearance and not aesthetically pleasing. Even Dipti would not stay there for longer than she needed to.
But she never imagined that a chance halt would change everything for her.
A group of people from Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Delhi, were on a trip to the hills of Uttarakhand when they chanced upon her little tea stall. When they heard her story, they decided that they had to help her.
With the help of local school students, the KNMA team painted over the walls of Joshi Tea Stall in Aipan, the traditional painting style from Kumaon. This promoted the local tradition and culture of that area.
And thus the Josh Café was born.
What makes it even more amazing is that KNMA did all of this for free, with the intention of promoting art and its application to impact lives.
This philanthropic endeavour from the KNMA was a game changer for Dipti. More people and children began coming to the Josh Cafe, and Dipti found her income gradually becoming steadier and better.
While an act of kindness transformed Dipti’s life, not all widows are as fortunate.
Many parts of India still support regressive customs when it comes to widowed women. They are shunned, mistreated and abandoned.
We’ve come a long way since social ills, and absurd cultural traditions burdened the society, but we still have a lot of work left to do, when it comes to protecting the fundamental human rights of women.
Let’s make a start today.
This story is part of The Stereotypeface Project, an initiative by The Better India that challenges 26 stereotypes, which continue to exist even today. We are showcasing these stereotypes through all the letters of the English language alphabet.
Stereotypes exist everywhere — they are passed down over generations. Instead of embracing and celebrating what makes us unique, we stand divided because of them!
We’ve unconsciously learned to stereotype, now let’s consciously #EndTheStereotype.
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(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)