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Years after they were abandoned, 50 women are visiting West Bengal

Years after being abandoned by their families in Vrindavan and Mathura, 50 widows from West Bengal will travel to Kolkata for Durga Puja. For many of them, it will be their first visit to the City of Joy since they were shunned by their families.

The women, invited by puja samitis, will fly from New Delhi and will be received to the beats ofdhaak (drums). They will inaugurate a pandal and participate in the traditional festivities. This has been planned to remove the social stigma attached to their lives.

The group is also expected to interact with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and has sought an appointment with the Governor.

According to Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, some elderly women had expressed a desire to visit Kolkata during Durga Puja.

“Though it was a good idea, we were apprehensive of the kind of reception they would get during the festivities, a very busy and crowded affair. In the meantime, some organisers approached us and offered to make special arrangements to ensure the women a grand reception,” he said.

Pally Mangal Samiti Durga Puja (Jodhpur Park) in a Kolkata suburb would be inaugurated by them upon their arrival. The Samiti will make special hassle-free arrangements for the elderly women to hop from one pandal to another. Other organisers like the Salt Lake FE block and Hindustan Park Puja Committee have also invited the women to their pandals.

Jaydeep Mukherjee of the Pally Mangal Samiti has planned a warm welcome for the visiting mothers and chosen them for inauguration. “We have also requested the Chief Minister to be present on the occasion to felicitate them,” he said.

“We are replicating the Krishna temple of Vrindavan as a puja pandal theme which will attract the visiting women,” says Bhaskar Nandi of the 72-year-old Singhi Park Puja Committee.

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