Suparna Shah had the best Navratri season this year.
She played dandiya for the first time. While for most Gujaratis this has been their routine for the nine days, for Shah it was a special treat.
Arthrogryposis, a rare genetic disorder, has left the 42-year-old with no hands. Doctors have divided her elbow joint into two to allow her to hold things.
On Sunday, she held dandiya sticks along with 140 other physically challenged people and played garba for the first time.
The special dandiya session was organised by the Handicap Earn and Learn Trust Home (HEALTH) and sponsored by the Rotary Club Mumbai (south) in Tardeo.
“Every Dussehra, I would lock myself at home because I would feel so out of place,” said the insurance agent, who got a new white ghagra for the occasion.
“Our members have always been left out of traditions and functions which the rest take for granted. This will help them feel part of society and their enthusiasm is infectious,” said Avdoot Rane (42), a trustee, who himself is paralysed waist downward.
Across the city people are preparing for Dussehra, the 10th and last day of Navratri. At homes, people are stringing together flowers to garland their cars and homes on Monday.
And children are excited about the burning of Ravana.
“It also helps us explain to children the difference between good and bad and is an occasion to teach them our holy texts,” said Hema Joshi, a 34-year-old Shivaji Park resident.
Maharashtrians begin the day by visiting the temple and giving friends and relatives sonyacha paan (a leaf) as a token of prosperity.
“We offer the first paan to god and pray for prosperity. The best part of the festival is that we get together as a family and take out time from our busy schedules,” said Kavita Despande, a 54-year-old Versova resident.