Durga Puja is one of the most famous and important festivals in West Bengal. This ten-day Hindu festival celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
This is a time for everyone, no matter what religion, to dress up in new clothes and go out with family and friends to enjoy the celebration. The young people at shuktara eagerly await this holiday. They love to go out visiting the magnificent pandals that house the Durga sculptures, complete with her lion mount and her ten arms wielding ten weapons.
The boys and girls go out together in two big vehicles over two days. The older boys go out again later on both those nights. This means that Sunil, who absolutely loves the Pujas, gets to go out four times!
We had a visitors at Lula Bari recently, Steven Rose and his partner Tracy.
Steven is the CEO of Choice Support, an organisation that provides support to people with learning disabilities in England. He has worked in the field of disability for over 40 years and he and his organisation have been supporting Guria at Lula Bari for the last eight months or so.
On returning to the UK Steven wrote about his visit to shuktara. This is what he says:
Returning to the work of Shuktara, in more than 40 years of working with disabled people I have never been so impressed with the levels of dedication and commitment I witnessed. Shuktara manage to achieve so much with so little and are literally saving children’s lives.
Click here to read the full post.
September 23rd was Sanjib Shaw's birthday and he decided to share his day with the young people at shuktara.
He brought chicken, Indian sweets, chocolate and cakes as well as one sack of rice!
Pappu Mishra (chairman of shuktara) is really happy when local people develop an interest in shuktara.
Sanjib heard about us when he started visiting our locality.
So we say thank you and Janamdin Mubarek (Happy Birthday) to Sanjib!
Pappu, chairman of shuktara, took Guria to Mobility India along with David and Milli mashi, one of the Lula Bari house mothers.
This is Jacinta's last week as a volunteer physiotherapist in Kolkata and she made an appointment for 23rd May so Guria could be fitted with knee gaiters.
Guria was very excited by the whole process, which meant measuring her legs. Luckily, as they had one pair in her size, we were able to leave quite quickly. The next step is to get a standing frame which is being tailor-made for Guria and will be ready to pick up on 6th June.
A standing frame provides an alternative position instead of Guria just sitting or lying, it will support her in the standing position.
Read more about Guria.
Kali Puja is the holiday after Durga Puja, celebrated right before Diwali, the festival of lights. The exterior of Bengali houses are lit up with dozens, sometimes hundreds of little candles and fireworks start going off as soon as the sun goes down.
A visit to the girls' home, Lula Bari, was a wonderful way to celebrate the festival of Kali, the goddess of Kolkata. A few visitors from abroad were invited to meet the girls and young women of shuktara, sharing sweets and laughter.