The first-of-its-kind event was an initiative to change the way people perceive specially-abled individuals. Through a beauty pageant conducted in a similar manner to that of the commonly seen pageants, the organisers tried to convey that people with down-syndrome are no less capable than anyone else.
The event was held between September 15 to 17 and crowned two winners from over 40 participants who had arrived from around the country.
Walking The Ramp Like Professionals
The pageant was organised by the Down Syndrome Federation of India and Happiness is Khushi, a Bengaluru-based educational academy for people who are differently abled. It was held in Chhattisgarh's Raipur from September 15 to 17 and welcomed participants from all around the country.
It was an attempt to create awareness and educate people about the many differential capabilities of people with down-syndrome. Dr Rekha Ramachandran, the pageant's chief patron and president of the Down Syndrome Federation of India, said, "Through this platform, we are trying to change the mindset of those who think people with Down Syndrome are suffering, which is not true." They convey that different or special needs do not necessarily mean less capable.
Through the event, they brought forward the contestants in the way they saw and understood them. Every element of a common pageant was reflected through this pageant held for those with the genetic condition. It had three rounds, consisting of a ramp walk, a speech from the contestants and a talent show.
Crowning With A Newly-Found Confidence
Out of the 40 contestants shortlisted, 15 finalists were selected and given a one-on-one grooming session by special educators for about a month.
A report by the Indian Express quoted the founder and director of Happiness is Khushi, Tejal Shah, saying, "Those with Down syndrome are intelligent individuals who can achieve anything which they put their minds to. This pageant will boost their confidence, which gives a sense of security and is the key to their growth going ahead."
True enough to this statement, the finalists put up their best at expressing their talents and beauty in their own way. By the end of the event, Unnathi Surana (16) and Sharan Delhivala (21) were crowned Miss India and Mr India with Down Syndrome 2022.
Khushi Shah, an eight-year-old from Bengaluru, was the youngest contestant at the event and went back home with the titles of Miss Confident Smile and Miss Talent.
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