Experiencing Kolkata's Durga Pujo magic in Braille - Blind footballer Goutam Dey reports for Newz Hook!

Kolkata is making history this Pujo season. For the first time in the city, the blind are getting to experience the magic and thrill of Durga Pujo pandals through Braille technology. In this Newz Hook special, Goutam Dey, who plays for national Blind Football team, talks about experiencing the Pujo magic through the sense of touch.

For me the Pujo season is very special and unless I have a match, I make sure that I am always in Kolkata right through the 10 days of the festival season.

But I was always dependent on my family, friends or the organizations that organised visits to explain the theme of each pandal, the design, arrangements etc. This time, the experience has been very different.

Last night, I visited nearly six pandals across the city. For one thing, every pandal is honouring a paralympian, either by putting up their pictures and showing their achievements, or by inviting them as chief guests. At the pandals at Salt Lake and Dum Dum, their arrival and achievements was announced on the mike. It is very wonderful to see our achievements being acknowledged on such a festive occasion.

Braille map at all major pandals

At all the major pandals, there was a Braille map and very good arrangements made for the blind. There were a lot of blind visitors who told me that they found the map very helpful. We could find out for ourselves what the theme was, whether the design was a pyramid or a dome, and who was the person responsible for that design. Everything was described in Braille.

For so many years, I would visit the pandals and feel that the sighted people are getting to experience something that we were left out of. We were never included. So this time, to know for ourselves through touch is very special. Because through Braille I am able to understand the theme much better and in a more meaningful way, much more than what anyone can explain in their words.

For the first time, the West Bengal Social Welfare department has made arrangements for the blind to enjoy the Pujo through Braille technology. Do visit and send us your feedback at editor@newzhook.com.