Ahead of the Raksha Bandhan festival, widows living in the Sulabh International-run ashrams in Vrindavan will send special Vrindavan-themed masks instead of 'Rakhis to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom they fondly call "Bhaiyya" or brother.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the widows will not be able to meet Modi personally, as they used to do till last year, to tie the ceremonial Rakhis.
However, they have made special Rakhis with images of Modi and specially-designed masks. These are being sent to the Prime Minister in New Delhi.
The Rakhis with images of Modi were made by aged widows living in Maa Sharda and Meera Sagabhagini ashrams in Vrindavan.
The founder of the Sulabh movement Bindeshwar Pathak, taking the initiative to break the shackles of the social stigma of widowhood started involving the inmates of the ashrams in all Vedic rituals and festival ceremonies.
Programmes are organised on Holi, Diwali, Raksha Bandhan, and other festive occasions. Sulabh has instilled a sense of wellbeing, restored their confidence and dignity after it took up their cause on humanitarian grounds and made arrangements for their health care, food and other necessities.
"The ongoing coronavirus crisis disheartened these widows but it didn't shatter their spirits, so they started preparing Rakhis and special Vrindavan-themed masks for Modiji. Some of the Rakhis have photos of the Prime Minister with covered faces," says Vinita Verma, Vice President of Sulabh Hope foundation.
Chabi Dasi, 75, looked dejected after she learnt it was not possible to go to the capital this year, but now she is happy that the Rakhis are somehow reaching the Prime Minister. "I have personally designed special masks carrying messages like 'Stay Safe' and 'Atmanirbhar' and Rakhis with Modiji with his face covered, she says.