It is perhaps the toughest job to explain colours to Sanjay, a 10th standard visually challenged student of Bhima Bhoi School for Blind. But Sanjay is not bothered. Warm hugs and a few affectionate words on campus have made his life colourful, albeit for a day.
This became possible when a group of volunteers decided to bring Sanjay and his likes out of the confines of their hostels or home to celebrate Holi – the festival of colour and persuaded them to share the fun here on Thursday.
“I have heard about different colours. I do not have any idea what exactly those are. As the darkness is the only colour in our life, the love and affection of people carry a lot of importance. Such celebration of Holi makes us feel that we are not alone,” Sanjay said.
As many as 76 students live in the hostels of BB School for the Blind. Annually they go to their respective houses during summer and Dushera Puja vacation. But other than this, hardly any occasion comes in a year when these visually challenged go out to celebrate festivals in public.
The festival, organised by Swabhiman, a city-based voluntary organisation, saw college students and people from different walks of life splashing colours on their disadvantaged brothers and sisters. Besides the customary exchange of greetings, volunteers spent considerable time motivating them to turn their physical disadvantage into advantage in life. Hearing impaired students from neighbouring Bipini Bihari Choudhary School for Deaf too took part in the Holi celebration. Sruti Mohapatra, the renowned disability activist, said, “such celebration is badly needed in life of physically challenged kids. Small encouragement may go on to change their life in a big way. It should not be just Holi, these special children should be part of every festival we celebrate in a year.”
“UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in its Article 30 (participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport) mandates all governments to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with other cultural life. But are we doing so?” asked Ms. Mohapatra.
She said, “most of the social functions observed publicly seem not to be meant for the disabled. Puja pandal committees never bother to make arrangement for people living with disabilities to worship deities on a public platform. Such types of discriminations hinder the attempts to mainstream the issue of disability.”