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Durga Puja

Special needs persons visit pandals

Group of 150 tours Sreebhumi, Salt Lake and New Town

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 20.10.23, 05:44 AM
Individuals with special needs and other visitors at a New Town pandal on Tuesday

Individuals with special needs and other visitors at a New Town pandal on Tuesday

A group of individuals with special needs went pandal-hopping on Tuesday, an experience they and their families largely miss out on because of the fear of large crowds.

Often, parents of individuals with special needs avoid taking them to pandals because the children can’t take the long wait.


Many parents do not step into the pandal or mandap but stop at a distance for a glimpse of the installations.

On Tuesday, the individuals with special needs visited the Sreebhumi Sporting Club puja, pujas in FD Block and AK Block in Salt Lake and one in New Town.

The group of 150 included children and young adults with special needs and their families. The trip was organised by the IPS Officers’ Wives’ Social Welfare Organisation.

A family from Behala was on the trip. Normally, they don’t even think of travelling to another part of the city during the festival rush.

“At times, it gets difficult to enter the pandal near our house because of the crowd. We never think of travelling to VIP Road. This time, we saw Disneyland at Sreebhumi,” said the father of a 25-year-old son with autism.

An exclusive group makes it easier for the parents. “In such groups, they are understood better,” the father said.

In some places, police cordoned off a passage for the group so they did not have to face the jostling crowd.

“If they are to go without some sort of assistance, it would be difficult and not fair to them. Parents got the support to take the children without the stress,” said
Jaya Malaviya of the IPS Officers’ Wives’ Social Welfare Organisation.

The India Autism Center, which works with individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, had approached the organisation for such a tour.

Six organisations that work with individuals with special needs participated in the tour on Tuesday.

“Many of our public spaces are not hospitable to people with disabilities and make it difficult for them to take part in any community event. We try to ease the experience not only for them but also their parents,” said Divya Somani, outreach coordinator, India Autism Center.

Somani said parents often refrain from visiting pandals because the whole experience of navigating the crowd with their children can be taxing.

Arunasis Adhikari, secretary of a trust that runs a special school, said there should be more such initiatives.

“Puja organisers cannot always have dedicated spaces for special people. An organised effort to create room for them helps many,” said Adhikari.

Last updated on 20.10.23, 05:45 AM

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