The competition of homecoming inaccessible to differently-abled people

Durga puja – the largest annual competition of West Bengal celebrates the victory of excellent over evil as Maa Durga slays Mahisasur to carry peace again to the world. This is the time when the ‘City of Joy’ Kolkata is totally decked up like a phenomenal bride on her marriage ceremony day.

Adorned with jewels of sunshine that are seen from the sky, themed pandals and fantastically crafted idols of Maa Durga, the town offers an extravagant expertise of the traditions and tradition of Bengal. This competition embodies ladies and the empowerment of girls. This is the time the town turns into a middle for cultural collaborations for artists who create fascinating pandals with distinctive themes. The metropolis streets are crowded with people who come to go to these spectacles.

Unfortunately, only a few pandals have been as inviting and as well-furnished as they need to be in the direction of people with particular talents while observing the COVID-19 protocols. The absence of helpful wheelchairs, emergency medical services and emergency exit gates stop the specially-abled from experiencing the Durga puja to the fullest.

Citing situations, many of the pandals have been missing separate gates for entrance and exit and the bulk have stairs with out bannisters as an alternative of ramps, which creates fairly a hindrance for people on wheelchairs. The lack of Braille in pandals hinders the visually impaired.

One of the possible the reason why the Durga Puja pandal committees have not been capable of cater to the disabled may very well be ignorance of what and the best way to organize for them, holding the continued pandemic situation in thoughts. Organizers should not aware about what and the way they will make their pandals equally accessible to differently-abled people. These puja pandals usually expertise hundreds of footfall daily. But as a result of lack of range coaching for the puja committees required to handle such mammoth crowds and guarantee a clean pandal hopping expertise for all, the pandals are inclined to grow to be inaccessible even with particular provisions like ramps.

Due to the large crowd of spectators that congregate on the pandals, it turns into fairly a hindrance for specially-abled people to maneuver round freely and benefit from the particular sights of every pandal. Owing to the present pandemic, it has grow to be extraordinarily problematic even for the volunteers to help them, a lot worse, if the quantity of grownup and smart volunteers is much less.

Seldom is it viable for the not-so-big budgeted puja committees to nominate well-trained skilled volunteers to handle the overly enthusiastic crowd and make room for people with disabilities. We usually have come throughout younger volunteers who have provided to step in for crowd management administration however have not been correctly instructed on the best way to make differently-abled really feel welcome. Their lack of considerable information and coaching falters all the scenario.

Yet the transformation in making Durga Puja pandals extra inviting in the direction of the people with disabilities through the years has been fairly positive. In 2018, one of many Durga Puja pandals devoted its 73rd-year celebrations to visually impaired individuals and held an initiative for eye donation. They additionally had an enormous set up of the idol of the goddess, constructed with greater than 20000 screws, welcoming visually challenged devotees and letting them contact and really feel the facade of the idol. Both the edges of the pandal had panels embellished with Braille inscriptions of the Durga mantra and slokas, amidst bamboo and thread work. A particular audio presentation was additionally put collectively for comfort.

At one other pandal, the volunteers, to be able to guarantee that people with disabilities don’t miss out on the pandal expertise, held a medical camp and had an ambulance helpful. The differently-abled guests might immediately use the VIP entrance and the volunteers have been there to help. But is it sufficient to have just a few pandals that showcase inclusivity and accessibility for differently-abled people?

According to a survey report, though among the pandals have been disabled-friendly, 71% of the massive banner pujas in Kolkata have fallen behind in offering satisfactory tools and a standard pandal-going expertise for all. This goes in opposition to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(RPWD) Act handed in 2016 and exhibits distinguished discrimination in opposition to disabled people.

We have a protracted method to go to prioritize inclusivity. In order to effectively handle the pandemonium that happens on account of large crowds within the pandals, organizers can construct separate queues and entrances and exit gates for people with disabilities which shall be of most assist in case of an emergency. A separate time slot is also assigned only for the specially-abled people when they might go to the pandals with none form of obstacle. Adequate usable wheelchairs and correct sitting preparations also needs to be organized to create ease of entry.

It is important to unfold consciousness among the many basic populous and the organizers of the pujas about inclusivity, sensitivity and tolerance to create a greater understanding of the fundamental wants of the differently-abled inhabitants who additionally should benefit from the puja pandals like their friends.

Although the Government has been repeatedly holding campaigns selling accessibility to all, it’s only we who can make the change occur the progress has been sluggish however there’s at all times room for change. Maa Durga has at all times been the image of inclusivity and empowerment. It is time that her devotees additionally really feel empowered with the equal and rightful alternative to have fun this as soon as in a yr festivity of affection and pleasure.

The writer is a range and inclusion SDG Ambassador, a Tedx speaker and a Public Relations specialist.

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