Making Durga Puja celebrations inclusive - My Take
Durga Puja, one of the largest festivals in the world, is a celebration that is meant for all individuals - beyond language, skin colour, religious views, caste and gender.
Nearly thousands of different clubs in Kolkata organize Durga Puja.
Since 2012, the Civilian Welfare Foundation in Kolkata has been doing a unique accessibility check of popular pandals that get over four lakh visitors.
Those doing the check are state athletes with disabilities.
The aim is to claim the right to entertainment and culture for persons with disabilities. It is also to promote awareness on disability sports.
Even after informing puja organizers, our team faced discrimination at many levels.
Wheelchairs were present but not available for use. There were stairs instead of ramps at the pandals, which means people with disabilities were left out.
There needs to be greater sensitivity on the part of organizers. The government should also put up some basic rules that ensure all puja committees hold an inclusive festival.
Instead of giving awards like Most Disabled Friendly Puja, all pandals should ensure accessibility. People with disabilities have a fundamental right to enjoy the richness of the puja.
About the Writer
Dr. Shuvojit Moulik, is the founder of the Civilian Welfare Foundation in Kolkata, which has been working in the field of disability rights in West Bengal for many years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.