Slum residents celebrate Dussehra, pledge to fight social evils

October 9th, 2008 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Oct 9 (IANS) Drawing a parallel with the festival of Dussehra which symbolises the victory of good over evil, the residents of a slum colony here Thursday burnt the effigy of a demon representing social evils such as AIDS and drug addiction. Under the aegis of state AIDS control society, NGO Yuvsatta burnt a 20-foot effigy of the demon at Bapu Dham colony, a slum settlement.

“It was our endeavour to educate the masses of this locality through an uncomplicated medium of festival and celebrations. People can easily relate their personal life with such things,” Parmod Sharma, coordinator of Yuvsatta, told IANS.

“Most of the families living in this slum colony are very poor. Their life is full of obstacles and frustrations making them vulnerable and they easily fall prey to drugs, tobacco and alcohol addiction,” said Sharma.

The venture was a success as hundreds of people of all age groups of this locality participated in the celebrations.

A magic show was also organised which explained through tricks the ways of transmission of HIV-AIDS virus and the ill effects of drug abuse.

“With increasing cases of exchange of infected needles by drug addicts, people not using condoms due to lack of awareness, alcoholism that at times leads to other hard drugs, the youth of the country is at risk,” said Vanita Gupta, project director, state AIDS control society.

In India 35 percent of reported new HIV-AIDS infections are in the age group of 15-24 years, pointed out Gupta.

“Dussehra depicts the victory of good over evil and the residents here have pledged to win over social evils. That is the reason why we associated this particular festival with these social causes,” said Sharma.

“Most of the people living here are either school dropouts or illiterates. It is very essential to educate them about the dreaded AIDS virus and such celebrations are the perfect platform to spread awareness,” Kaka Rana, a social worker and a resident of Bapu Dham colony, told IANS.

“We aim to motivate the masses here to shun bad habits and lead a healthy lifestyle. Alcoholism and drug addiction are the root cause of countless conflicts in the families residing in the slum areas of the city,” said Sharma.

“AIDS is another problem posing a great threat especially among poor people. We have to remove this in the same way as the effigy of Ravana goes up in flames every year,” he added.

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