Visiting Durga Puja pandals is something which we have all cherished since our childhood – hopping from one to the other with friends and siblings, queuing up for that one look at the deity and discussing how she looked. With puja committees and their pujas growing in size and number, more attention is being given to the needs for those who are visually and physically challenged persons. “I am thankful that puja committees are making efforts to help people like us,” said Arup Chakrabarty, a visually impaired citizen, and vice-president of National Institute of Professionals (NIP).
Of the more than 2,400 Durga Puja committees in the city, around 230 have made arrangements for the easy and smooth entry and exit for the differently abled and aged. Stairs will be replaced by ramps for the smooth movement of wheelchairs. The puja committees are also taking care to make sure that the actual pandal and the sanctum are not far from the main road. Apart from the structural improvements, arrangements are also being made to make for a more pleasant and involved experience. The committees will employ volunteers specially trained to answer queries of such visitors; for example, explaining details of artworks and themes for the visually challenged, so that they are able to experience the puja through detailed narrations of the volunteers. VIP gates will be used for the movements of these special guests to enable them to avoid the rush of the general public and to enhance their overall experience.
The NIP, in association with Forum for Durgotsav and the Department of Social Welfare of the West Bengal Government, will take the above-mentioned measures as parameters to judge the winners of the Differently-abled and Senior Citizen-Friendly Durgotsab Awards. In all, about 230 committees will participate for these prizes, including big ones like Ballygunj Cultural Association, Deshapriya Park Puja Committee, Chetla Agrani, Bose Pukur Sitala Mandir and Bhawanipur Sadhin Sangha Pujo Committee, to name a few.
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