With the rhythmic beats of the 'dhak' floating in the air, Durga puja has brought smiles on the faces of the elderly living in the old-age homes of Kolkata.
Clad in new clothes, they move around with a new found happiness lighting up their lives, though temporarily, as they forget pangs of separation from their own families.
Seventy-year-old Jamuna Sarkar and Nirmala Chakraborty, 80, both inmates of The Refuge, an old-age home for destitute and old women at Bowbazar, admit the thrill they experience at the sound of dhak (drum) and chanting of Sanskrit hymns during Durga puja.
"Durga puja is being organised in the home premises for the past three years and new clothes are distributed to the inmates to make 300-odd inmates happy during the four-day celebration," said an official of The Refuge.
Most of the inmates are either physically or mentally handicapped and alienated from families for years since they came in the homes.
"Despite old age and acute arthritis in the knees, I look forward to the puja all through the year," Sarkar, a handicapped woman, said.
Before the puja started in the home here, festival days used to be painful for them when they would stay huddled in the home as thousands of others enjoyed hopping from one beautifully decorated pandal to another in the city.
"Though nobody from my family visits me nor would I be able to roam around with children and grandchildren, yet we look forward to the puja to soak in the atmosphere," Chakraborty, another resident of the home, said.