At Ballyugunge in south Kolkata, a tactile path leads to a puja pandal that has a huge façade of Durga’s face made using 22,000 screws and Braille panels inscribed with mantras along the interior walls.
The Samaj Sebi Sangha has dedicated its pandal this year to visually-impaired people.
“We have always tried to use Durga Puja to pass on an important message and make it special for those who often don’t get to enjoy it. So, this year, we tried to make a difference in the lives of those who never get to see the grandeur of the festival,” Aniket Moitra, general secretary of the puja committee said.
The installation, designed by artist Pintu Sikhdar, allows visitors to discover through touch what many experience visually when they see an idol.
The organisers said they spoke to around 50 visually-impaired students to get their inputs while conceptualising the pandal. The experiences narrated by the students have been made into a special audio presentation, which is being played at the pandal. Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee voiced the audio presentation.
Collaborating with the members of the Braille press in Kolkata, Curators Sumi and Subhodeep Majumdar published a schedule so visually-impaired visitors are kept aware of the timings of various rituals during the festival.
“We want to raise awareness and help the Braille press,” Moitra said. The other aim is to raise awareness about eye donations. Samaj Sebi has collaborated with three organisations — Voice of World, Behala and MP Birla Eye Bank — to organise a donation camp. They expect to receive at least 500 pledges during the festival.