Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, and Rajashree Birla, mother of industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, joined several celebrities to lead a herd of goats over London Bridge in a symbolic show of support for distressed widows in India and elsewhere on Saturday — world widows day.
Also, walking alongside Blair in the event dreamed up by NRI businessman Lord Raj Loomba were former pop star Cilla Black, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Angela Harris, soul singer Heather Small and designer Elizabeth Emanuel.
“India is home to 100 million impoverished widows, and many of them suffer from social stigma,” Blair told Hindustan Times. “The goats are a symbol of livelihood — the milk alone can be a source of income in many different ways.”
Loomba, who was brought up by his widowed mother in Punjab, said he came up with the idea after being made a Freeman of the City of London in recognition of his corporate activities.
According to rules thought to date back 1,000 years, the honour entitles the recipient to walk goats across London. The 20 goats, shipped over from Derbyshire, 200 km from London, included the African-Indian Nubian varieties.