Kolkata: Five years after sex workers of Kolkata's Sonagachi organised their first Durga Puja, it's going to be a grand celebration this time. A large pandal has been erected and they have collected about Rs 4 lakh to celebrate the only puja for sex workers in Kolkata.
In October 2013, after years of struggle, the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Samiti (DMSS), a sex workers' collective, got permission from the Calcutta High Court to organise Durga Puja in the forbidden streets of Sonagachi, considered Asia's largest red light area. The festivities were restricted to a small community hall and the programme wrapped up in Rs 2 lakh.
In the following years, the women desired full-scale puja celebrations, just as the rest of the city, replete with their own pandal and Durga pratima (idol), but the court didn't allow. The disappointed devotees discontinued the event in 2016.
"Despite repeated appeals, our wish has not been granted. There will be no Durga Puja this year," Bharati Dey of DMSS had said last year.
However, this year, the court ruled in their favour. "We are going for a full-fledged marquee as well as idol," Kajol Bose, secretary, told news agency IANS.
"A five-member team comprising representatives of police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, fire department and our collective was constituted by the court to decide the location and other details," Ms Bose said.
Close to 20,000 visitors from the community are expected to come to the pandal erected outside the DMSS' clinic. Special arrangements have been made to deliver bhog to those unable to visit the pandal.
Sex workers in West Bengal's Basirhat are also holding their first Durga Puja celebration this year, she informed.
(With inputs from IANS)