After the death of a man (husband), the wife (widow) is not allowed to wear bangles, kumkum (sindhur) and is asked to wear white saree & shave her head. Is there any reference for such a practice in scriptures? And what is the purpose of such a custom?
I could not find the exact reference of not using saree of any other colors except white. EDIT-On the contrary I found from here that widow women should wear yellow atleast while performing a specific Vrata. So, whether scriptures at all prescribe widows wearing white garments is debatable.
It is prescribed that ceratin Vratas are meant to be observed by women only. For example women can get the punya obtained by men by observing the Aswamedha Yagya if they dedicatedly observe the "Ananta Triteeya Vrata" in winters... The married women to wear red clothes while widows yellow hued clothes. The unmarried women(girls) should wear only white clothes.
But shaving off heads are mentioned(pg-20) in a book called Dharma Bindu: Dharma Bindu contains the essence of all Dharma Shastras.
As a husband passes away and the widow observes the regulations of widowhood, the woman concerned shall most certainly enjoys a high level of conjugal happiness in her ensuing life. Since a widow is distinguished as being one, it is preferred that her head hair is removed forever, takes a single meal a day and refrain from a second meal that day! She should not use fragrances and not utilise flowers; every day she should perform tarpana with ‘tilodakas’ or black Tilas with water using ‘darbhas’. Those women who are widowed should consider as the diseased(deceased) husband as Vishnu himself and then her remaining life would be spent peacefully without problems and even though as of a woman of auspiciousness.
By "Maharshi" is meant Maharshi Vyasa. Apart from these I could not find anything else. And the exact Sanskrit verses in the image are probably from the Vyasa Smriti.
The Mahanirvana Tantra also lays down few rules the widow has to follow. One such rule is she must avoid wearing colored clothes which implies that white clothes are recommended for her.
The widow should not eat twice a day, nor should she eat food cooked by one who is not her husband's Agnate; she should renounce sexual enjoyment, animal food, jewels, sleeping on soft beds, and coloured clothes (56).
The widow faithful to her Dharmma should not anoint herself with fragrant ointments, she should avoid village gossip, and should spend her time in the worship of the Deities and in the performance of Vratas (57)
Chapter 10; verses-56,57