"We are hurt and pained by the remarks of Hema Malini," Mandoloi (70), who hails from Madhya Pradesh and has been living in Vrindavan for the past 15 years after her husband's death, stated.

Fifty widows, living in five ashrams at Vrindavan have been sponsored by Sulabh International, a non-profit voluntary organisation, to visit religious places of Bihar and West Bengal.

"We are in Vrindavan to offer prayers to Lord Krishna," the widows said.

The group includes 95-year-old Kanak Lata Devi, who will visit her ancestral place after 40 years to enjoy the Durga puja festivities in Kolkata.

The former screen goddess and now a BJP MP Hema Malini had recently stoked controversy with her remarks that widows from West Bengal and Bihar should not crowd Vrindavan.

She had said that responsibility of looking after widows should be of states from where they hail.

Patna-born Kaushalya Devi (70) and Arti Mistri from Odisha objected to Malini's remarks of widows begging in Vrindavan and said they were actually following the traditional practice of 'madhukari', which means collecting honey from flower.

"Their trip to Kolkata is an effort to bring some joy and sense of belongingness to their lives. They are going back to the land of their ancestors," says Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder of Sulabh International.

The widows would meet West Bengal Governor Kesri Nath Tripathi during their stay, NGO officials said.

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