White bedspread in flowers

For the last few decades, India has been a member of countless social, economic, and political transformations that could not be seen for a long time. Urbanization has covered almost the entire country, many of the old regulations and taboos, based on the patriarchal way of thinking, are gradually giving way to the new. Changes have even affected many reserved places as Vrindavan – the center of Krishna worship in northern India. For centuries, this ancient city served as a haven for millions of Indian widows. Having lost their happiness, left behind by their families, living off charities, these women come here to the holy city to live out their lives among their own kind, a completely colorless, joyless life, constantly in widow's white robes.


Not so long ago, some unconventional and most importantly, caring local residents launched a humane social project: during the Holi festival, two or three days a year, these unfortunate women are allowed to wear colored outfits so that they can at least temporarily feel involved in the bright world around them. The result is truly stunning.

In February, I was lucky to shoot this short-term festival of colors: I observed Holi in the company of these beautiful ladies, whose true purpose, believe me, is not to live in poverty and despair, but to live and enjoy life. For the local inhabitants, this is not just a holiday of spring – it is a breath of air of hope and freedom. I witnessed how, at the time of the holiday, these strong women suddenly woke up to the former naughty girls, forcing them to forget their sad fate for a while: they sincerely rejoiced, joked and laughed like all the happy women of the whole world.

Text and photos by Joydeep Mukherjee

The material is published in the 57th issue.