WHITE SHADOWS

White Shadows is a photo-essay of the widows of Vrindavan. It is here, in this ancient sacred and holy city, that a segment of impoverished Indian widows find refuge after the death of their husbands. Being destitute, these women are often cast out of their family homes by her children and in-laws, unable or unwilling to feed an extra mouth.

The widows earn a meager keep by chanting devotional chants on behalf of pious families, and congregate in various ashrams in the city.

As tradition dictates, they must wear plain white cotton saris, reminding me of white shadows…fleeing in the darkness of their ashrams, and waiting the deliverance of death.

A widow in front of her ashram in Vrindavan.
Bent in half, a widow makes her way to the ashram.
A group of widows waiting at the ashram’s entrance for the distribution of food.
Inside the ashram, a widow lights an oil lamp to start the devotional songs
Cymbals help to keep the tempo of the devotional songs
In front of a small shrine, a widow prostrates herself in worship
Sitting atop of a threadbare carpet, a widow waits for the devotional songs to start.
Widows lining up for their food tokens.
The hand cymbals used during the devotional songs.
Waiting patiently in line for the food distribution
Widows leading the ashram in reciting the devotional songs
Food distribution. Usually rice and dhal lentils.
Ladling a cup of water to a widow.
A widow reciting sacred prayers to a group.
The ashram in Vrindavan
The widows returning to their hovels at the end of the devotional songs.