Sex workers across Bengal to attend Sonagachi Durga puja

Kolkata, Sep 8 (IANS) Sex workers from 60 red-light zones in West Bengal will participate in the Durga puja organised by inhabitants of Sonagachi following the Calcutta High Court’s ruling to rent a community hall for the purpose.

According to Bharati Dey, member of an NGO which works for sex workers rights, its four-member team is fanning out across the 60 areas to advertise the celebration.

“We will be using the Santoshi Maa temple for the idol worship and the adjoining community hall for arrangements and seating,” Dey, General secretary of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Samiti (DMSS) told IANS.

“To adverstise the puja, we are sending out a team from today (on Tuesday). They will be joined by sex workers from the districts to spread the word,” Dey said.

“The budget has been fixed at Rs. two lakh. Five teams will be responsible for food, looking after the priests, making sure the items needed for the rituals are available and other duties,” she said.

“But there is a tinge of sadness,” she said. “We were hoping to conduct a large-scale celebration complete with marquee and big idol. But even this year we could nOt get that.”

“We will have to do with a five feet idol since the temple complex is not big enough to fit in a bigger idol,” she said.

For the time being, they are content with the fact that the entire three-storey community hall has been allotted for the festivities. Local councillor Sunanda Sarkar has been supportive of their endeavour, she said.

Sonagachi, considered Asia’s largest red-light area, is home to more than 7,000 sex workers.

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