During Durga Puja, while all blind lanes, dingy alleys, corners and crannies in Kolkata are decked up in dazzling lights, colourful marquees and vibrant themes, Bengalees flock the streets in hordes. Sounds exciting, right? Now imagine how Durga Puja is for the visually-impaired individuals, who can’t step into the jostling crowd to blend in with the Puja madness or witness the artistic marvels at the pandals. To foster more social inclusion, Samaj Sebi Sangha in Kolkata has portrayed blindness as their theme this year, with a pandal exclusively dedicated for the visually-challenged.
What Durga Puja means for the visually-challenged
Ballygunge Samaj Sebi Sangha is a noted Durga Puja organiser in Kolkata, especially known for their attempts to create social awareness about many issues. “To do justice to our association name, which translates as ‘The Social Workers’, we try to inculcate some social consciousness through our Puja every year,” shares Arijit Maitra, General Secretary of Samaj Sebi Sangha.
Social workers Sumi and Shubhodeep Majumder, who have been working with blind children at Voice of World Special School, approached Samaj Sebi Sangha and suggested them to take up the cause of the visually-impaired.
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“We were so moved by the idea that we instantly finalised it. To start with, we interacted with students of Narendrapur Blind Boys’ Academy and Voice of World and asked them what Durga Puja means for them. Keeping in mind their ideas, dreams and emotions, we have tried to create an imaginary world in our pandal,” Maitra shares.
The organisers have extended special invitations to children from blind schools who have already staged different cultural performances at the podium near the pandal. They have also organised special surprises to fill those little minds with bursts of happiness.
Every inch of the pandal has something to tell you
The entire stretch of the pandal has been lined by a tactile path, where visually-challenged visitors can walk independently, side by side with others. An enlarged sculpture of the Goddess Durga idol made using 12,000 screws, graces the entrance, which the visually-challenged people can touch to feel how a traditional idol looks like.