Lights of Service
Karve knew by personal
experience the sufferings of the husband and the wife in society if a man married a widow.
He also realized the necessity for widow marriage. Therefore he felt that the crusade for
the marriage of widows should not suffer just because of the fear of opposition in
society. He established the 'Widow Marriage Association'. Widow marriage was treated with
contempt in society. One object of the Association was to make it easier for men who
wished to marry widows to do so. The second object of the Association was to educate
public opinion and to put an end to this contempt. After a few days Karve changed the name
of the Association to 'The Association for the Removal of Restrictions to the Marriage of
Widows'. The phrase 'Widow Marriage' suggests provocation. How very appropriate and
meaningful that Karve should have changed the name! He wanted to avoid as far as possible
giving offence to society. He wished to bring about improvements smoothly. He did not want
to bring about divisions in society in the name of social reformation. He wished to take
others with him on the path of reforms.
Karve was not satisfied with this. A number of widows never
get a chance to marry again. Karve decided that a suitable Ashram (hostel or home) was
needed for them.
He thought of a plan for a home for a few widows. He
decided that till the home came into being the widows could stay in the hostel of the
Girls High School and continue their education. But where was the money for this?
The first contribution came from Karve himself - a donation
of one thousand rupees.
In 1896 'Anath Balikashram Association' was started. The
Ashram was established in Pune. Karve went from town to town and collected money. In 1900
the Ashram was shifted to Hingne, a village four miles from Pune.
Parvatibai Athavale, Kashibai Deodhar, Venubai Namjoshi and
a number of such educated ladies volunteered to work for the Ashram. A number of young
widows were educated there and became self-supporting.