Purple Fest, the inclusive festival for persons with disabilities (PwDs), is gearing up for its second edition in January 2024. The event, which was a first-of its kind in Goa, serves as a platform for individuals with disabilities to showcase their talents, connect with others facing similar challenges, and celebrate their unique abilities.
The Office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities and the Directorate of Social Welfare have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring equal rights and opportunities for persons with disabilities through their involvement in Purple Fest.
Under the leadership of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the festival is led by the Minister for Social Welfare Subhash Phal Desai and State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities Guruprasad Pawaskar.
The festival has caught the attention of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leaders from other states as well, who have expressed interest in hosting future editions of the fest.
ALL ABOUT PURPLE FEST
Purple Fest offers a diverse range of activities and events, including panel discussions, interactive workshops, exhibitions, adaptive sports and performances. It goes beyond mere entertainment, providing individuals with a platform for self-expression and personal development.
The festival also provides an opportunity for individuals to challenge societal biases and embrace the strength and diversity of the Persons with Disabilities community.
Goa’s commitment to inclusivity is evident through significant infrastructure improvements, such as ramps, lifts in the secretariat, and special seating, as well as the implementation of training programmes.
This January 2024, Purple Fest aims for global recognition and expects to attract attendees and performers from around the world. This expansion reflects Goa's dedication to promoting inclusivity not only within the country but on an international scale as well.
Additionally, Purple Fest serves as a valuable platform for networking, sharing experiences, and finding support. It fosters the formation of friendships and facilitates the exchange of valuable knowledge, contributing to the overall well-being and empowerment of persons with disabilities.
While a few participants from the previous year expressed excitement for the upcoming edition of Purple Fest and the lasting impact it had on them, including Frederika Menezes, an artist living with cerebral palsy, who expressed her excitement about the upcoming festival.
“Purple Fest is the perfect platform for inclusiveness of PwDs into the regular world,” Menezes said, highlighting the positive atmosphere and the opportunity to interact with other artists.
Raksha Dangui, who has a locomotive disability, emphasised the importance of inclusivity, stating, “It was really lovely to see not just people with disabilities, but people with no disabilities enjoying and celebrating together.”
Dangui also expressed her desire for a job fair day at this year's festival, where individuals can personally connect with companies committed to inclusive employment, promoting equal opportunities for all.
Gauresh Marathe, who overcame the challenges of a spinal cord injury, credits Purple Fest for enabling him to rejoin the world after spending years isolated in his house.
“Purple Festival provided me with a vehicle, enabling me to attend and witness its impact on the lives of so many disabled individuals in Goa,” said Marathe, currently working for Zomato.
Anupa Pelgaonkar, who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta and works at the Department of Tourism, expressed her excitement about the engaging activities at Purple Fest, particularly the para table tennis championship, in which she won a silver medal. Pelgaonkar eagerly awaits the festival’s return in January.
Moises Rodrigues, an employee at Vasco Municipality with a locomotor disability, highlighted the inspiring nature of Purple Fest, where individuals confidently perform daily tasks and embrace life.
“I participated in various activities, including a wheelchair golf dance performance, a table tennis championship, and a wheelchair marathon.”
Purple Fest Goa 2023 received high praise from Prasad Joshi, the founder and general secretary of the Goa Association of the Deaf. Joshi described the festival as a significant platform for individuals with disabilities to celebrate their uniqueness and diversity, showcasing inclusion under one roof.
Said Joshi, “The curated events were filled with informative discussions, inspiring experiences, and entertainment, making the festival a comprehensive package.”
As a deaf leader, Joshi, lauded the presence of Indian sign language interpreters, which allowed him and other deaf individuals to fully participate in the celebration.
As the next edition of Purple Fest approaches, the anticipation grows for an even more inclusive and empowering experience for individuals with disabilities in Goa and beyond.