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Alacrity brightens prospects at beauty pageant

Venkat Raman – 
venkat@indiannewslink.co.nz

I distinctly remember that day in 1966 when Indian newspapers came out with banner headlines announcing the crowning of Rita Faria as Miss World.

There was only one Television Channel in the country at Delhi; Bombay or Mumbai was to get its first television service only in 1972.

There was euphoria, celebrations and congratulatory advertisements-the whole world seemed to whirl around the first Indian global beauty.

There were of course many eyebrows raised and protests held in many parts of India. “This is degrading women and antithetical to our culture and tradition,” many puritans and so called social workers said. The issue then died down.

Four decades later, there have been changes. Aishwarya Rai won the title in 1994 and has become a hot favourite in Bollywood and may well find a place of prominence in Hollywood as well. Sushmita Sen has become another icon, having won the Miss Universe contest in the same year. A few others followed-Diana Hayden, Yookta Mookhey and Priyanka Chopra.

Miss Indianz evolves

Miss Indianz competition, which is now in its 14th year, has also undergone similar critiques but it has grown to become a more relevant and significant event. It has not only become a cultural extravaganza but also an important showcase of alacrity, presence of mind and equally important, humour.

That the Indian Diaspora has matured to embrace beauty pageants, with parents encouraging their young daughters to participate, travel around the world and speak out on community and social issues, is a sign of progress.

That has been a major achievement of Miss Indianz over the years.

There is still time to enter Miss Indianz 2016. Visit www.rhythmhouse.co.nz or call Dharmesh Parikh on 021-2727454; Email: events@rhythmhouse.co.nz

We continue our profile of the contestants, which commenced in our April 15 issue.

Nazmeen Karsan Prema

Flying high is a part of her career for Nazmeen Karsan Prema. Indeed, this 19-year-old, Auckland born youngster studied Aviation last year but thought modelling would widen her horizon as well.

“I believe that Miss Indianz would be an amazing experience not only to learn more about my Indian heritage but also take a risk. It is not often and easy for me to take risks but this is the direction I have chosen. I hope that it would be a great opportunity to build and grow to be a beautiful Indian woman,” she said.

Pictures of Nazmeen are by Andrew Bignal, Sophie Tucker and Mark Forward.

Natalie Narita Nand

Auckland-born Natalie Narita Nand is an achiever with a difference.

A ‘Participation and Inclusion Facilitator’ at a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), she is a specialist in community mental health support.

Completing her graduation (Bachelor degree) in Science (with Psychology as a major subject), she launched her career at the NGO in 2012 and shortly thereafter took up an assignment at ‘Disney World’ in Florida, USA, as a part of her Overseas Experience.

She returned to New Zealand last year and re-joined the same Organisation.

“My passion has always been to be able to help others, which is something I get to do every day in my workplace. I support my clients to achieve their goals around work, study or community participation. I also volunteer with Project K, where I mentor a teenager. I hope to pursue my postgraduate studies in the health sector,” she said.

Natalie started learning Hindi film dances and Bharata Natyam this year, to ‘reconnect with her Indian heritage.’

“My identity was not very close to my roots while I was growing up. I believe that Miss Indianz would be a great platform to engage with the Indian community and find out what it means to be a Kiwi-Indian,” she said.

Risha Shritika Kumar

At 15, Risha Shritika Kumar would be one of the youngest contestants of Miss Indianz over the years.

Born in Lautoka, Fiji, she hopes that Miss Indianz would be a new experience and a great way to get to know new people.

“It will bring new opportunities into my life and I look forward to the event. Miss Indianz is a great platform for young Indian women to gain self-confidence. It is about you and the efforts are what you put in, not others,” she said.

Pictures of Risha are by Peter Niven and Serena Dickinson

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