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Mentally-challenged women celebrate Diwali in Bhubaneswar

A woman looks at a fire garden before the switching on of Diwali lights in Leicester, Britain, November 1, 2015.  The Diwali celebration in Leicester is one of the largest in the world outside of India, with around 35,000 people attending the switch-on of the lights in the heart of the city's Asian community. REUTERS/Darren Staples
A woman looks at a fire garden before the switching on of Diwali lights in Leicester, Britain, November 1, 2015. The Diwali celebration in Leicester is one of the largest in the world outside of India, with around 35,000 people attending the switch-on of the lights in the heart of the city's Asian community. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Nov. 11 : In a bid to spread smiles on the occasion of the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, a shelter home for mentally-challenged women in Bhubaneswar organised a cultural programme on Tuesday.

Visibly happy inmates of Mission Ashra (Shelter) clapped and danced along with the performing artistes at the event.

Director of Mission Ashra, Govinda Patnaik, said that such events helped in faster recovery of inmates.

“Since last 12 years we are organising almost all festivals like Holi, Diwali, Eid (and) Christmas because it’s a process to recall their past memories which can help them to early recovery in their mental condition,” said Patnaik.

The venue was drenched in the light of scores of earthern lamps. The 220 inmates, some of whom have been living there for over two years, made coloured patterns called rangolis and lit sparklers, making sure that no one missed their families.

Diwali is celebrated with great fervour and gaiety all over India as it marks the return of Hindu god Lord Rama to Ayodhya in northern India after he defeated Ravana, the powerful demon king of Lanka.

Legend says millions of lamps were lit when Lord Rama returned after 14 years of exile in forests and after defeating Ravana.

Diwali is also celebrated in honour of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is believed that Lakshmi showers her blessings upon those homes that are clean and well lit.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch in 2014, mentally-challenged women in India are treated worse than animals. It further said that these women are often dumped in overcrowded, state-run institutions lacking basic facilities, where mentally ill and disabled people are “ridiculed, feared, and stigmatized.” (ANI)