Virah talks about exploring Intimacy through language by the 'Widows of Vrindavan
Humans are social beings. Language is the way we make human contact, & achieve intimacy. We speak and listen and in the process of linguistic interaction, intimacy is realized. To understand one other and be understood is an intimate transaction.
Widowhood in India is a state of social death, even among the higher castes. Widows are expected to have a spiritual life with many restrictions which affect them both physically and psychologically. Although widows today are not forced to die in the ritual of Sati*, they are still generally expected to mourn until the end of their lives.
These women have to leave behind their colorful clothes, part with their jewelry, and sometimes even shave their heads, They are treated as outcasts in Indian society & looked down upon.
These widows who have been disposed of by their families travel to Vrindavan* to find solace in the devotion and worship of Krishna both as a God and a divine husband.
Sati - A practice in India whereby a widow throws herself onto her husband's funeral pyre.
Vrindavan - A holy town in northern India. The Hindu deity Krishna is said to have spent his childhood here
Since these women are illiterate, they are unable to write. Due to this, it was impossible for them to express their feelings toward Lord Krishna.
User Research | Design for Social Impact
My aim was to develop a language through which these widows can communicate without the use of words, something that provides them with a sense of belonging & makes them feel empowered. I wanted to show how each widow shares an exclusive relationship with her Lord. How each widow feels differently when she is intimate with her Lord, for some it may be tranquil, for some filled with trance.
These symbols are meant to be abstract & not pictorial.
This language was created for the widows, keeping their roots & contextual references in mind.
This does not have a universal application.
The following research book talks about my journey of exploring Intimacy through the 'Widows of Vrindavan'
Poetry written by these women using my symbolic language.
Hindi text overlay to provide the reader with the translation of the poem.
/ All scans are original
My efforts were translated into the Member of Parliament making the the language I designed the official language for the widows of the village & of course, EMPOWERING these women!