Who We Are
Based in the U.S., The White Rainbow Project is a nonprofit 501(c)3 Christian Humanitarian Organization empowering the women of India with a focus on deconstructing the stigma of widowhood by teaching sustainable skills.
We are dedicated to:
- Empowering widows and at-risk women in India by sharing love, hope, and job skills
- Building a product line: The White Rainbow Collection as an avenue to sell hand-made, Fair-Trade goods created by women who are in need
- Challenging stigmas to eliminate cultural and economic oppression
After marrying native South Indian, Dharan, Linda started a life and a family in Southern California. First learning together of a place called Vrindavan through their son’s summer reading assignment, Homeless Bird, they found this is where many of the widows cast out of Indian society come into lives of exclusion, poverty, and exploitation.
The City of Widows, as it’s come to be known, is the stage on which the traditions of all things spicy, colorful, and life-giving, including former relationships with friends and family, come to an abrupt halt. Each day thousands of people come to visit in the over 4000 temples in the city. Widows can survive by chanting in the ashrams 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. They literally “sing for their supper.” Day in, day out.
Linda and Dharan, filmmakers in their own right, decided to tell the story of the widows’ plight and encourage change within society with their acclaimed Hindi film, White Rainbow.
The Story Behind the Name, White Rainbow
Many of the widows’ lives revolve around chanting all day, seeking shelter and even waiting to die in hopes that their next life will be better. Stripped of the joy of the literal and figurative “color” of their lives, like white rainbows. But, conversely, all the colors of the rainbow actually do come from white light as it passes through a prism, so a perspective change can make all the difference. According to Linda Mandrayar, “We want to shift their perspective, from despair to joy, because we believe that they are not unlucky or unworthy, but that they should be loved and cherished.”
The White Rainbow “Open Home” and Partners
In an attempt to further the efforts of the film, the first White Rainbow “Open Home” Center was started in 2012. Located in Vrindavan, the center provides paid life skills, food and medical stipends, and respite shelter for widows. Since it’s inception in 2012, White Rainbow Project has also grown to encompass new partners in both North and South India, working to support widowed women, supply work and training to village women’s co-ops and self-help groups, and partnering with the New Hope Home for sex-trafficking/abuse victims. The long-term goal is to meet women in their personal need to prevent social stigmas, especially that of widowhood, from further debilitating their self-worth and ability to make a living. We also believe in connecting women to one another, so that they can share the burden of their experiences and the joy of sisterhood across generational, cultural, and societal boundaries. We see treatment of each person as a whole, with every part of the life-cycle in mind, as the best approach for serving the women of India. We acknowledge the many ills facing the women of India as interdependent and therefore, all relevant to healing the widows of India and their daughters.
Please enjoy learning more about how we accomplish our goals from a live radio interview from Chennai, India.
4/21/15 Jane Jeyakumar interviewed Linda, Asha and Norma about White Rainbow Project.