The otherwise calm, Mahatma Gandhi Kusth Rog Ashram was bustling with activities as their inmates were all gearing up to celebrate the festival of colours, Holi. In their own little world, the fifty-five inmates made arrangements in their own little way to have a blast on the festival they have been waiting for long. The inmates, all being treated for leprosy, have arranged colours and gulal to celebrate the festival with zest. For Holika Dahan, the inmates collected dry wood and cowdung cakes to make sure the significant ritual symbolizing triumph of good over evil was performed without a miss. They expect least from those who have distanced themselves and live in peace together sharing joy and pain.
A couple, Prakash and Paliben , both suffering from leprosy feel that people have issues with skin disorders and so they keep away. We hardly see any outsiders visiting them to play holi, but we do not have any qualms about it we are happy with our friends in the ashram.
Echoing the same views, Hunwanta Waghmare, said that we have our whole world inside the ashram and they are happy sharing the joys and pains with other inmates. Arrival of guests though pleases us but still we do not feel need of anyone here as all inmates share the bonding and make us feel like home.
Ram who lives in the ashram says all festivals are celebrated in ashram and the festivities keep people energized. Madhukar Sakode and Laksham, invited people to ashram to play Holi with us. Madhukar, whose wife is battling with cancer, said he eagerly look forward to festivals and take part in the ashram’s activities. Ashram is home to us and we live together like a family, said his friend Lakshman.
Ashram’s manager Khairun Nisha lamented that people have certain misconceptions about the leprosy and so they do not mingle with patients. “See I have been running the ashram for over 25 years and telling everyone to treat the leprosy patients as any other human being who is suffering from any disease. I have been explaining people that the disease will not be transmitted as believed,” said Nisha.