Aditi Panda

A little attention can add to the delight of the devotees and at the same time increase happiness among the pandal hoppers. Special care will boost the trip of women, elderly and persons with special needs in the puja pandals to offer prayers to the deity.
Numerous puja pandals surface across the state with delicate designs and amazing ideas during durga puja, with less evidence for the comfort of visitors, specially senior citizens, children and persons with different needs until recent times.  A little thought to the design and planning with some sensitivity and societal goal to integrate every person in the society and help participate will surely enhance the joy of the festival.
The pandals are crammed with pandal hoppers and it becomes really tricky to handle the crowd. The prospect of accidents and stampede increases if adequate preventative measures are not taken by the puja committees. Simple things like a flat standing place and covering of loose wires used for decoration can be taken care of to avoid accidents.
“A separate entrance for senior citizens should be a mandate in every pandal as they visit the pandals with utmost religious feelings and the pushing and hurrying up in the regular queue discourages them to visit the pandals. We understand the place is limited and the crowd is huge but even then some special facilities will make a great difference”, shares Samapti Routray, a habitual pandal hopper.
Everybody has a religious side and love to visit the beautifully decorated pandals to see the interplay of lights and divinity. Various puja committees loosen their purse strings for an edifice to be an exclusive pull to visitors and be in awe of its opulence.
“This year we have designated special volunteers to escort old people, women, children and every person who need assistance, near the deity so that they can offer prayers without any disturbance. We have increased the height of our goddess so that people can catch a glimpse from a distance. Other facilities like drinking water, first aid box, organized parking will be seen in almost all the pandals”,said Biranchi Hota , member of a city based puja committee.
Now-a-days, a feel good ambience is created to see people on wheelchairs visiting pandals and more so as they are taken inside by some side entrance or escorted by volunteers to see the deity. Even pregnant women and mothers with small babies get special attention.
“I was thrilled to enter the pandal and offer my prayers to the deity. It gave me a lot of serenity and strength and I am really looking forward to visit the pandals if they are accessible. People with special needs like us don’t have to stand in long queues now to enter the pandal and have direct access to the puja premises. This will inspire the differently abled to make the pandal rounds and participate in the festive fervor” said Anjlee Agarwal, A wheelchair user who is a Director at Samarthyam, a National Centre for Accessible Environments.
This year, let us pledge to help anyone in need if we see them unable to have a clear darshan of the deity at a pendal. Happy Pujo!
(Aditi is a freelance writer and pursues interest in the area of social issues)


  1. Very nicely written Aditi. Totally agree for special darshan queues. It is just an additional safety arrangement ,so they can experience the joy of visiting a pandal.

  2. People can enjoy and pray freely in these organised Pandals. Great effort by Pandal Mangement.

    Thanks for such a great coverage of Navratri Spree across Odisha. People are genuinely driven by faith. They visit these pandals in huge numbers. This validates how culturally enriched Odisha as a state has evolved with superb management of Navratri Pandals.

  3. If this really works all over the place it will make a big difference. More people need to see this article so that they are made aware of this situation. Generally whoever goes to see the pandals, they don’t really think about the senior citizens and the differently abled. But if they are made aware, I’m sure there will be changes!! After all, humanism is the basic religion which matters the most.?

  4. First of all government should not allow pandals to be erected on the roads. An open area should be Demarcated where all interested parties can erect their own pandals for a small fee. This money should go in providing visitors all basic facilities to make the experience more uplifting. This is how event abroad are planned and organised taking into consideration least trouble to the general public.

    Posted through whatsup by Bharat chetty, Pune

  5. First of all I would like say that the huge decoration of pandals is simply wastage of money, along with that coverage of lots of place which leads to traffic jam & difficult for public to offer puja properly & peacefully. So I think we must donate some part of the collected amount for some noble job

    Posted on whats up by Saibali pal ,Bhubaneswar

  6. A puja pandal will really be unique when it’s beautyand grandeure can be enjoyed by the worst out lots of society.Keeping this in mind the organisers should provide special & dedicated facility for smooth access for people with disability ,senior citizens& ladies which will definitely make them stand out among their fraternity.

  7. Yes.Durgauja is a complete festival…. shopping,puja,dance, food and lots of masti.may Maa bless all and may all enjoy colourful Dandiya..nice article.

    Posted on whatsup by BIswamitra Tripathi,Bhubaneswar

  8. Nice to know that people with special needs,senior citizens,pregnant ladies are given special access to the pandals…its the faith,devotion and the grandeur of the pandal that drives the people to pandal-hop…May Goddess Durga bless us all..


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