West Bengal: Old-age home inmates go pandal hopping

Twenty inmates of an old age home joined in the festive cheer as they took a ride around the city's landmark pandals on 'Mahaspatami' on Wednesday.

Kolkata: Twenty inmates of an old age home joined in the festive cheer as they took a ride around the city's landmark pandals on 'Mahaspatami' on Wednesday.

The senior citizens, aged between 65 and 90 years, were taken around the city from the award winning Chalta Bagan Puja to Ahiritola and Kumartuli Sarbojonin community pujas, the 10 most popular pandals.

Her face beaming after seeing the intricate designs of the Durga Puja pandals and dazzling illuminations, 70-something Aruna Sahani (name changed) recalled the last time she went pandal hopping many years back.

"In my younger days when I went around the pandals of the city with my husband and family, the designs, decoration and the Durga idols looked more simplistic. Unimaginable how the decorations, design everything have turned so intricate," the frail woman, who lost her husband 10 years back and was adopted by 'Little Sisters of the Poor' home, said.

Some of these elderly citizens who were barely able to walk were aided by volunteers of the NGO. With assistance they even alighted from AC buses which ferried them near the pandals for a a closer look at the deity.

Ramps for them were built at the 'Chalta Bagan Puja'.

The spirit of joie de vivre was expressed by 72-year-old Amit Saha (name changed).

Refusing to be aided by any volunteer, he said, "I have been abandoned by my children but I am not feeling let down. I have made the home staff and inmates of the Home my family who have proved that ties of blood are not everything," said the man tears rolling down his cheek..

"I had been to such Puja parikramas (rounds) earlier too. Every time I visit these pandals I feel younger, feel like joining the hordes of revellers. Last year I liked the idol at Santosh Mitra Square the most," he said.

Eminent danceuse and choreographer Tanusree Shankar, who had acted in 'Ballygunje Court' - a film on senior citizens' aloofness, said she felt excited when approached by social activist Sandeep Bhutoria, a member of Chalta Bagan puja committee, to interact with these elderly people.

"This is a very human initiative and old people are like children who need utmost care and tenderness and not indifference and neglect," Shankar said.

The programme was sponsored by Vodafone with support from the Puja committee and logistical support by the Kolkata-based NGO.

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