Kolkata Ensures Durga Puja Is For All

With wheelchairs, ramps and display boards in Braille, Durga Puja organisers are widening the scope to make the celebrations more inclusive
Durga Puja in Kolkata   Photo Shutterstock.com
Durga Puja in Kolkata Photo Shutterstock.com

A few years back, during the annual Durga Puja, a festival organising club (Samaj Sebi Sangha) in south Kolkata had created a tactile experience in their marquee for the visually impaired. They created an installation of the face of the goddess with nearly 12,000 screws so that people could feel the texture and shape better - to make the goddess &lsquovisible&rsquo to the visually impaired. Structures on the walls used criss-crossing threads on nails to form patterns and phrases in Braille.

Once upon a time, wheelchair bound visitors would have a difficult time accessing the marquees, especially those with stairs. But now many of the popular organising clubs have started building ramps so that wheelchair bound visitors are not inconvenienced.

This year, three clubs have gone further in making the celebration more inclusive, especially for the visually impaired.

Aided by the National Institute of Professionals, an institution that works for the differently abled people, according to media reports, the three clubs - Hazra Park Durgotsab Committee and Thakurpukur SB Park (both in south Kolkata) and Young Boys Club, Chitpur (north Kolkata) &ndash have installed Braille display stands in front of their marquees so that the visually impaired can appreciate the theme, images, d&eacutecor and even the illuminations. They will not need the help of accompanying volunteers to describe everything to them but appreciate the speciality of the marquee on their own, said a member of one of the organising clubs.

With the recent recognition granted to the Kolkata&rsquos Durga Puja by UNESCO and a largely restriction free (from pandemic-related regulations) celebration, the city&rsquos festival organisers are pulling all stop to make it a special one. But what is more heartening to note that organisers are making an effort to make it an inclusive experience.

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