Humiliated by Kauravas :
The story of Draupadi's marriage, from the Hindu epic of Mahabharata
is like none other. Draupadi
(a.k.a. Drowpadi and Panchali) may be the only celebrated bride
among all the classics of the world to have multiple husbands simultaneously.
Yes. Five of them!The Wedding
King Drupada could not find a suitable groom for his princess Draupadi
and arranged a contest (Swayamvar) to find the sharpest shooter
of the time. Bachelors from all over contested in a grand ceremony,
but it was Arjuna, the master of the bow and arrow who won it. It
is said that he brought the bride home and hollered to his mother
Kunti --"Mother, look what I have brought!". The unassuming
Kunti is said to have replied, "Whatever it is, share equally
among your brothers!". Those were the times of going by the
words and Draupadi was blessed with not one, but five brave husbands,
Today: Widows in India still undergo
ritual humiliations and extreme ostracism; conditions that several
new programs are seeking to redress.
When Mohini Giri wants to describe the hardships of widows living
along the banks of the Ganges, she tells the story of Shanta Bai.
When Bai was 5 years old her shoulders drooped under the weight
of her bridal garland. But according to Giri, a widows' advocate,
the little girl could hardly have imagined what burdens lay ahead.
Her uncle had pocketed Rs.300 ($6.55) by marrying her off to a 36
year old. The husband died four years later, leaving Bai a 9-year-old
Now 85, says Giri, Bai hobbles down the streets of Vrindavan, a
city in the north of India, her gnarled fingers cupping a broken
bowl, begging for her living while she waits for death to claim
Bai is one the estimated 33 million widows in India, the country
with the largest widow population in the world. Among them, at least
20,000, like Bai, sit on the banks of the river Ganges and beg for
alms. Vrindavan and Varanasi, holy cities in the north of India
and two of the country's most sought-after pilgrim centers, have
become home to the husbandless.
According to the story, even
the five husbands could not protect Draupadi's honor
(what can be happen for a widow ?)when she was humiliated in an
open court by Dushasana, the second of the Kauravas by stripping
her saree. Draupadi had to pray to Lord Krishna who provided her
with a never-ending drape.