Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Indria Goswami, Celebrated Writer on Widowhood Dies

I just heard the sad news today that Indira Goswami had passed away. I have my google alerts set on Vrindavan Widow so that I can keep abreast of any news that affects our work. Today the alert was about a remarkable woman who was a source of inspiration when my husband Dharan wrote the screenplay for our film "White Rainbow". Many times people ask me who the protagonist in "White Rainbow" is based on and I always mention that the character is loosely based two women, one is a young affluent widow that was suicidal, but eventually went to Vrindavan and started helping the widows there.

Read the articles below and you will see the similarity. I am thankful that Indira spoke out and wrote about such a sensitive and personal issue so that many others can be helped!

Excerpts from The Hindu Newspaper

Indira Goswami, who died on Tuesday aged 69, was among India's most celebrated contemporary writers whose work spoke boldly and evocatively for the empowerment of women and other marginalised sections of society across the country. For this, she won the nation's highest literary honours, and respect and adulation in her home State Assam, where she was known as “baideiu” or elder sister. Far ahead of its times, her Neelkantha Braja was one of the earliest works of Indian literature to highlight the exploitation of destitute widows in Vrindavan. The book was born out of Goswami's own early widowhood, and a short experimental stay in a widows' home in the U.P town. Her frank Adhalekha Dastavej (An Unfinished Autobiography), written in 1988, details her battle with intense depression after her husband's death, her nights with sleeping tablets, handfuls of which she swallowed in two attempts to end her life, and the story of how she won the struggle by immersing herself completely in her writing. From Wikipedia After the sudden death of her husband, in a car accident in the Kashmir region of India, after only eighteen months of marriage, she became addicted to heavy doses of sleeping tablets

Her experiences as a widow as well as a researcher finds expression in her novel The Blue Necked Braja (1976), which is about the plight of the widows of Vrindavan who lived in abject poverty and sexual exploitation in everyday life. One of the main issues that the novel touches upon is the plight of young widows for whom companionship beyond the confines of their ashrams and fellow widows become impossible. Their urge to live, as well as the moral dilemma that they face vis-a-vis the order of precepts of religion in this regard, are brought out with astonishing clarity and feeling in the novel. The novel exposed the uglier face of Vrindavan — the city of Krishna, an Hindu deity — inviting criticism of Goswami from conservative sections of the society. It remains a classic in modern Indian Literature. It is autobiographical in character as she says the anguish of the main character Saudamini, reflects what she had gone through after her husband had died. It was also the first novel to be written on this subject. The novel was based on Goswami's research on the place as well as real-life experience of living in the place for several years before she joined the University of Delhi as a lecturer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks!

And don't forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.
Hebrews 13:16

Dear Friends, November is a time to give thanks and the White Rainbow Project is very grateful for all our blessings! We had an amazing "Friend Raiser" dinner, a very successful "Party with a Purpose" and I just returned from a very productive trip to India. Please read the below to get all the exciting details and please continue to remember our work in your thoughts and prayers. All the Best for the upcoming Holiday Season, Linda

First Annual Friend Raiser Dinner A big thank you to all who came out to our first annual Friend Raiser dinner which was held on October 11th at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad California. Over 65 people came to hear about the exciting ways that God is blessing our work. Suzanne Baker of the Spiritual Spa hosted our event and shared about the importance of friendship - friendship is something that is chosen something to cherish and not taken lightly. Linda Mandrayar the co-founder and executive director gave an overview of the history of the White Rainbow Project where we've been and where we are going. Anne Taylor of Anne Taylor Catering provided a delicious Indian meal and the rest of the WRP team shared about ways to become friends of the White Rainbow Project by becoming a social media friend, sponsoring a widow, hosting a Party with a Pupose or joining us on an upcoming service trip. Learn more at Party with a Purpose Carolyn Feneck and Debra Kolek hosted a wonderful Party with a Purpose on October 18th at Debra's beautiful home in Temecula, Ca. Over 20 of their friends came and watched the White Rainbow film enjoyed a light Indian meal and then many of them purchased items from the White Rainbow Collection. Over $800 dollars was raised to help the widows. Won't you consider hosting one as well? It is so rewarding and the items make wonderful Christmas gifts. There is no cost and we will send you everything you need. Contact us right away to get your event kit.
YWAM Team comes to Vrindavan to help the Widows
Youth with a Mission is an international volunteer movement giving young people opportunities to demonstrate the love of Jesus to the whole world. When I was in India this past July, I met with a YWAM team that worked in another holy city, Varanasi. I shared with them about our work with the widows in Vrindavan and I showed them a copy of White Rainbow. After viewing the film, 9 of them felt led to come to Vrindavan to minister to the thousands of widows living there. I was fortunate to meet up with them on my recent trip to India, October 29th - November 12th. They are doing fantastic work and have had such a positive influence on so many already. They are staying in Vrindavan for the entire month of November so please keep them in your prayers!
Ganga and Mukesh's Wedding One of the most rewarding parts of working with the White Rainbow Project is to see lives that have been transformed. Ganga is one of those lives. Ganga was a young widow living in a shelter with little hope for the future. Last summer, Katie and I taught her how to make paper beaded necklaces and offered to pay her for the necklaces and asked her to teach other widows how to make them as well. She started to earn a living, regained her confidence, and married Mukesh a paraplegic man who had also been abandoned in Vrindavan by his parents when he was a child. I was fortunate to attend their wedding ceromony on November 2nd. The bride was radiant in a lavender sari that had been dontated for the White Rainbow Collection. God is Good!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WRP Fabulous Weekend at Pepperdine University

The White Rainbow Project team had a fabulous weekend at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California to help celebrate Pepperdine's 75th Anniversary. We were invited to participate in the Waves of Service showcase. What is Waves of Service you may ask?

The Waves of Service movement celebrates, supports, and connects Pepperdine alumni committed to volunteerism and careers of service worldwide. The vision of Waves of Service is to become the world's most active alumni service movement in the world.

My husband, Dharan and I are Pepperdine alums. It was so much fun to be back at Pepperdine where we met and were married over 25 years ago!

We made some really great connections with other amazing alums who are making a difference in the world.

Chelsea Kadovitz of Global Christian Taskforce -Focusing the Light to Free those trapped in Darkness- They specifically want to help orphans and widows worldwide by partnering with other non-profits. What a great fit for us!

Kelly Gonzales of The Mulligan the lives of children with disabilities in Central Vietnam

Doug Plank of, Connect, Raise Funds- They help other non-profits connect with donors.

We feel honored to be surrounded by such caring and giving people and we are so proud of our alma mater for encouraging service to others!

Go Waves!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Celebrating the !st International Widows Day with the Widows at Ma Dham

On June 23rd, we got to celebrate the first International Widows Day with the widows at Ma Dham. This day was recently instituted by the United Nations. We purchased snacks and sweets for the widows with the money that WRP board member, Jon Silvester's daughter, Jordan and her friends raised by singing at church. We had a big picture of the girls and cards and pictures that they had made and we shared with the widows that the girls were praying for them and how they had donated the money to treat them. They were so happy and really appreciated our being there with them. The girls' smiling faces touched their hearts and warmed their spirits.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day

Dear White Rainbow Project Friends,
Today is International Women's Day and it is fitting that I update you on our
recent trip to work with some of the most maligned women still on the planet, the destitute widows of Vrindavan, India. Through no fault of their own, these women are relegated to much lower than second class citizens just because they had the misfortune of out living their husbands. Amazing in this day in age.

Jon, Hannah and I had an eventful 10 day trip to India. The weather was great. Cool in the evenings and mornings and not many bugs. Much better than my last trip in July!

Jon is a founding member of the White Rainbow Project and this was his first trip to India and Hannah is a senior at Poway High School and she chose to do her senior project as an ambassador for the White Rainbow Project. She raised over $2,200 to cover her expenses for the trip and to help pay the salary for a nurse at the widow’s shelter. She made Peppermint Bark and sold it at Christmas time to friends and fellow students. Way to go Hannah! She is a wonderful young lady with a great attitude who will go far in life.

We arrived early Sat. morning, slept for a few hours at a modest hotel by the Delhi airport and then headed out on a three hour journey to Vrindavan that same afternoon to stay at Ma Dham the widow’s shelter run by the Guild for Service. We were joined by Jenni, a Finnish radio journalist and Rosa, a Spanish philanthropist, who had both seen the film “White Rainbow” and were interested in seeing how they could help spread the word about the plight of the widows in Vrindavan.

The widows and the staff warmly greeted us when we arrived at Ma Dham. The next morning we handed out small gifts (body lotion and nail clippers) to all the women. Many of them had never used nail clippers before and had to be shown how to work them. They had been using razor blades before so this was a welcome change. It was such a great experience to be able to show love with just a simple gesture.

They have a new nurse named Neeru who is wonderful. She is in her early 20’s and has the sweetest smile. She really enjoys her job and takes such good care of the widows. She was hired a few months ago by the Guild after we had offered to support a nurse at Ma Dham.

On Wednesday, we went into Vrindavan and visited the Bajan Ashrams where the widows chant and got a tour from one of the men that work there. He wanted a donation for the temple of course. It was just like a scene out of the film. We visited a bazaar so that Hannah could get some gifts for her friends and supporters. At sunset we went on a boat ride on the famous Yamuna River.

Whenever I visit Vrindavan and see all of the widows who are still uncared for it makes me realize that there is still so much more to be done here. Cynthia, who was formerly living at Ma Dham, has rented an apartment in the city so that she can get a clearer picture of how to be more effective in helping the most needy widows. She has made some new connections with other Indian non-profits that are working with the widows. One organization is the Methodist Health Center that hosts medical clinics and helps widows get their pensions. We hope to learn more about their work to see if we can be of help to them as well.

On Thursday we met with Asha James who is one of my favorite friends in India. She is helping us put together our fund raising initiative of having compassionate Indian women donate their beautiful saris for us to make unique tunic tops and gift bags to market here in the states. We hope this helps support our mission of caring for destitute widows in Vrindavan. She showed us some of the new samples, so we are excited to share them with you. You can check them out on our website on the White Rainbow Collection tab or directly link there here at

On Saturday morning we visited the Taj Mahal. This was my second visit and I do have to say that it gets more majestic each time that I see it.

Before heading out to the airport, we went back to Ma Dham for our final good byes. It is heart breaking to say good-bye to those sweet, sweet widows and the hard working staff. We feel like we have really made some special relationships there. We headed back to Delhi to catch our late night flight back to LA with so much to be thankful for!

India is an amazing place that cannot be fully described until you go there. We all thought that we were going to die several times on the crazy highways, and the things you see will blow your mind, like 5 people on a motorbike and 18 people in an auto rickshaw meant for 4. There are cows, pigs, dogs, monkeys, camels and even some elephants everywhere on the streets that have open sewers and trash overflowing on them. And don’t even get me started about the smells and the air pollution, but the best part about India is its people. You will never meet more hospitable and kind people anywhere else on earth. Like I said, you just have to experience it for yourself.

Who wants to join us for the next trip?