As Ayodhya prepares for the consecration ceremony of the Ram Temple, featuring the idol’s ‘pran-pratishta’ for Ram Lalla, Sita Mata has already found a renewed abode in the secluded Raveri village of Yavatmal district, Maharashtra.

This unique Sita Mata temple not only serves as a spiritual centre, but also emerges as a beacon of hope for numerous abandoned women, widows, single mothers and orphaned females. The temple committee, along with the villagers, is actively engaged in developing a plan to construct a shelter for these women; while the farming community hopes that the place could inspire farmers for an innovative concept known as ‘Sita Sheti’ (Sita farming).

This ancient shrine highlights the celebration of single motherhood through its rich history. It showcases idols of Sita and her twin sons, Luv and Kush, setting itself apart by not featuring statues of Ram and Laxman.

“The temple underwent extensive renovations, including the installation of a new idol of Sita Mata in November. However, this marks just the beginning of our efforts. We are actively seeking support for our ambitious project to construct a shelter home for abandoned women, orphans, and widows. Despite lacking a direct source of funds, we are determined to drive this project forward,” affirmed Namdevrao Kakade, a villager and member of the Sita Mata Temple Beautification Committee.

Why support to abandoned women? 

The villagers hold a belief that when Ram abandoned Sita, she sought refuge in this region, residing in Valmiki’s ashram. Despite facing challenging conditions, she persevered to ensure the well-being of her children.

In 2001, during a women farmers’ convention organised by the late Sharad Joshi, a leader of the Shetkari Sanghatana, in Raveri, a resolution was made to reconstruct the dilapidated temple. Since then, farmers in the State have been actively involved in the temple’s renovation. Before his passing away in 2015, Joshi contributed ₹13 lakh towards this cause.

“It was his desire that Raveri and the Sita temple become symbols of strength for abandoned women. We are committed to realising his dream,” said Kakade.

Seema Narode, a leader of the Shetkari Sanghatana and a widow herself, remarked, “The temple serves as an inspiration for all abandoned and vulnerable women, urging them to confront challenges with the same determination as Sita. The Shetkari Sanghatana recognises such resilience through the ‘Swayamsiddha’ award, honouring women who bravely navigate the hurdles of a male-chauvinistic society.”

Sita Farming

Sharad Joshi and his Shetkari Sanghatana have introduced Sita Farming, a concept that empowers women to lead in agriculture, enabling them to experiment with farming practices and apply their practical knowledge.

Joshi highlighted the importance of this initiative, he wrote , “This experiment involves farming based on scientific knowledge, intelligence, and business acumen. Women may not have access to expensive laboratories and funds, but they can conduct these experiments on their own farms to enhance agricultural practices.”

Farmers in the area believe that implementing Sita Farming, with a focus on women in agricultural activities, can effectively alleviate agrarian distress. The Sanghatana has also launched the Laxmi Mukti programme, encouraging male family members to either transfer a small piece of land into women’s names or include them as joint holders in land ownership. “Sita Mata is our Gram Daivat (village goddess). We hold profound reverence for the mother’s fortitude, and she serves as an inspiration for every single woman to courageously face her battles,” affirm the villagers.