Published: 2022-03-25

Situation analysis of ‘institutionalized’ and ‘homeless’ elderly widows abandoned in India’s pilgrimage centres: insights into their living conditions and available infrastructural facilities

Ankita Kumari, T. V. Sekher


Background: India is known as a progressive country with multicultural heterogeneity, yet it is nevertheless firmly anchored in religious sentiments, traditional beliefs, and cultural conventions. Upon the demise of husband, some widows are often left destitute, ‘dispatched’ to religious places to spend the rest of their lives. This is a common practice in India, but in actuality, they are compelled to live in ‘homes’ meant for them, surviving on alms and charity.

Methods: An exploratory cum descriptive design was used to understand the current living condition of institutionalized and homeless abandoned elderly widows in Vrindavan and Varanasi and to assess the current standard of infrastructural facilities of Old age homes sheltering these vulnerable group of population.

Results: Most common facilities that were present in almost all the OAHs/shelter homes across the two cities was cots, mattresses, clothing and linens, hygiene and sanitation maintenance, common hall for visitors, doctors available on call, proper lightening etc. In spite of that, it was disclosed that about 39% of these institutionalized abandoned elderly widows were not satisfied and rated the quality of services and facilities being provided to them as ‘poor facilities’.

Conclusions: With the growing incidence of elderly widows being abandoned in major cities and religious places, adequate OAHs/shelter homes in each district across all the states should be maintained for providing shelter, support and protection to the vulnerable destitute.



Abandonment, Elderly widows, Homeless, Infrastructural facilities, Old age homes

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