Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata: Inclusive pandals make way for differently-abled devotees

By: | Published: October 17, 2018 9:59 AM

Durga Puja is not just about fun and festivities, it is an occasion that binds people from all sections of the society and gives them a chance to partake in the celebrations in an all-inclusive environment.

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Durga Puja is not just about fun and festivities, it is an occasion that binds people from all sections of the society and gives them a chance to partake in the celebrations in an all-inclusive environment.

Taking this spirit of oneness a step ahead, a puja committee in the southern part of the city has dedicated its 73rd-year celebrations to the visually impaired people and placed an appeal for eye donation.

At the path leading to Samaj Sebi Sangha pandal, in Ballygunje area, a huge installation of Durga, made with over 20,000 screws, welcomes visually challenged visitors, giving them a chance to touch and feel the faade.

The panels on the two sides of the pandal are also adorned with Braille inscriptions of Durga mantra and shlokas, amid thread and bamboo work. The entrance gate to the pandal has been embellished with a huge visage, the eyes of which are covered with palms.

A special audio presentation, with Tollywood superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee’s voice-over, has also been put together for the occasion. Unlike most pandals that ask viewers to maintain distance from the artefacts inside the pandal, Samaj Sebi has been encouraging people to feel the display of thread and bamboo work, one of the organizers said.

The volunteers have also collaborated with a social organization for the eye donation camp, she added. “We are receiving good response from people for the eye donation initiative. We hope to get more support over the next two days,” she added.

At another pandal, around 3 km from Samaj Seb Sangha, a special counter has been set up with wheelchairs and stretchers for the aged and differently abled devotees. The volunteers at Bhowanipore 75 Palli have ensured that people with disabilities or challenges do not miss out on the experience, Subir Das, one of the organizers, said.

“There is a medical camp and an ambulance outside the pandal. Differently abled visitors and pregnant women do not require any card of pass to use the VIP entrance. Our volunteers have been assisting them,” he added.

Wednesday marks the eighth day (Ashtami) of Durga Puja festival. The devotees worship Goddess Durga’s weapons and perform a grand aarti (ritual with camphor-lit lamps) amid dhaak (drum) beats and dhunuchi (earthen pot with burning coconut husk) dance.

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