Indian scriptures dictate that a widow, even one under the age of ten, is forever meant to live a life without pleasure. Unable to marry again, they become outcasts and are taken to a widow-ashram where they have next to nothing, beg for money or food and prostitute themselves for the ashram, when they are lucky.
You might think that the movie Water is about the unfair ways in which widows in India are treated, but it is really about us all. Regardless of our roles in life and what we may or may not have, we all tend to feel limited, un-allowed or un-able in life. It can manifest differently for us all, but the end result is the same. We find ourselves in circumstances or situations which we cannot control, just like the widows in Water.
Three of the main characters are widows each trying to overcome their limitation. The youngest, Chuyia, age seven, wishes to return to her home and realizes in the movie that she’s been left here by her family, so there is no going home. Still, she finds some happiness in a celebration, but then betrays herself when she lets the head of the ashram lie, telling her that she’ll be taken home, but is taken to her first client.
Our second widow, Kalyani, is a young lady who has been the ashram’s prostitute, though none of this life is by her choosing. Playing with the seven year-old, she bumps into a young man, Narayan and they fall in love. He proposes marriage, as he is a follower of Ghandi, who speaks against the casting in society, including widows. Nevertheless, when Kalyani realizes Narayan’s father has been a client, she is certain that her dreams of marriage are lost, so she too betrays herself and commits suicide. Tragically, Narayan never doubted his love for her and comes looking for her the next morning, but it is too late.
Shakuntala, our third widow, is a middle-aged woman and devotee to her religion, what she thinks is right, though her religion has left her abandoned in the ashram with the other widows. The father or priest to the ashram tells her to never lose faith and tells her that the Indian laws allow a widow to re-marry, renewing her connection to her spirituality and helping her find her way out of a deep sinking and sadness. Realizing that she needs to keep her faith and look deeper than laws or beliefs, she has a fundamental change. Though she knows that she will never have a male suitor knocking on her door and proposing, as Kalyani did, she finds salvation within herself and her seeking beyond the limitations of old laws or beliefs. Her new found strength that comes from her realizing that she needs to listen to the wisdom within, propels her into braver and larger actions that confront the status quo. First she helps Kalyani’s pursue her dream of marriage, not realizing it will end in her death. She also tries to rescue Chuyia when she finds out that she has been taken to a first client, going against the rules of the ashram again. Though she is too late to save Chuyia from the client, she then hears that Ghandi is speaking and takes Chuyia there to listen, as Shakuntala now knows the importance of what she has faith in.
Shakuntala is validated, seeing that she isn’t to follow blindly but rather faithfully find her truth within, which will set her free from the ashram, from being a widow or anything else that she thought could hold her back. She knows she wants more for Chuyia and runs alongside the train, asking that Chuyia be given to Ghandi. She finds Narayan, a devotee of Ghandi, who takes Chuyia in his arms, off to a brighter future.
Though Shakuntala is left behind without her friends, still with no money and still an outcast as a widow, the movie ends with her life altered and empowered.
The Truth About Self-Betrayal
No, this movie isn’t really about outcast widows, it is about us all. We are all on a quest to come to know, deep within ourselves, that truth is God- our truth. When we stand outside our own truth (outside what I can our Golden Flow™) , we fool ourselves. We may not know better because we don’t know ourselves yet and so we believe what we are told is true, that the law is true or our religion is right. Then we can’t help but betray ourselves, believing things like that a widow should never experience pleasure.
Beliefs can seem silly and ridiculous when they are not ours. But when we believe something, we defend it and live by it, though it can keep us from our truth and from experiencing our God. At that point being empty, feeling hopeless or being convinced that our dreams are not possible become the ways in which we betray ourselves, because we don’t know our own truth, our authentic selves or our God.
Kalyn is a medium or channel of The Oracle. Dedicated to her own spiritual path, Kalyn loves writing about spirituality and especially enjoys finding the spiritual sides of films in her Spiritual Cinema blogs. Kalyn is an author and does personal coaching, www.coachmaven.com, in addition to having The Oracle give classes and spiritual retreats.