(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) In the run up to miss india worldwide being held in dubai and abu dhabi we speak to the reigning champ and the uaes entry.
winning the miss india worldwide title this time last year representing the united kingdom nehal bhogaita’s journey isn’t your run-of-the-mill pageant tale.
being hearing impaired nehal is the first differently-abled contestant to have successfully come away with the crown in the competition’s 17-year history.
for the past year nehal accompanied by her interpreter sister has travelled the world completing her duties. this weekend she is in dubai and abu dhabi to pass on the mantle to one of 40 new contestants from all over the globe.
the finale of the pageant will take place at the grand ballroom al raha beach hotel abu dhabi on june 20 while the talent leg will happen at the hyatt regency hotel dubai on june 18.
here we speak to nehal to find out more.
you come from the uk so how does that work when competing for a miss india title? are you representing the uk or is the country simply a point of difference for the contestants to enter the competition?
miss india worldwide is for girls with indian heritage and that is what i have. though i am from the uk and british i share our indian culture and that is what i am representing.
what were your thoughts on pageants before you began entering them? did you enjoy the process of first entering and what was your experience like at the beginning? how has the process changed?
my mum and sister surprised me by entering me into miss india worldwide 2013 as they know i have always wanted to participate in a pageant. once i was shortlisted for the finals they told me. i was ecstatic! the regional and uk rounds were challenging yet fun. i was treated equally and i learnt a lot. the worldwide finals in malaysia were fantastic. it was definitely a huge step from the uk round. it was much tougher however an experience of a lifetime.
how do you reconcile these pageants from a feminist point of view? with women striving for equality do you think the shows perpetuate the misguided notion that women are only objects of beauty or from your experience do you believe otherwise and why?
beauty pageants especially miss india worldwide do not just look at outer beauty but the whole package of a woman such as their personality grace intelligence and talent. they show that there is definitely much more to a woman than what you see on the surface.
how has competing with a disability affected your time in the pageants. have there been difficulties or do you find the process exactly the same as the other contestants?
it is quite scary competing with hearing people as i do have a disadvantage however it has never stopped me from trying. my talent dancing is much harder as i feel the vibrations of the music rather than hearing it. i am treated exactly the same. the only difference is that i have an interpreter on stage when needed for communication and speech purposes.
what does being miss india worldwide entail? what do you hope to do after you have completed your term as the winner?
my journey as miss india worldwide has been incredible. my duties included travelling to several countries to judge and perform at pageants. as well as this i was able to visit many deaf and disabled schools to inspire children to achieve their dreams. after winning my aims are to act or dance in bollywood especially in a film like black. i also want to carry on my charity work and travelling to help as many people in need as i am.
where in the uk are you from and do you have any family in india? what is your family’s (wherever they reside) view on pageants and your participation?
i am from a very diverse and multicultural city leicester. i do have relatives in india though my parents were born in africa. my family has been very supportive of my passion in pageants. pageants can teach you a lot and can give you experiences of a lifetime. my family has supported me every step of the way. without them i would not be where i am today.
what would you like to see change in the pageant world?
the two biggest changes i would like to see in the pageant world is the restriction on height and more encouragement for disabled people participating.
would you encourage your daughter to compete if you have children one day?
i would definitely encourage my daughter to compete in pageants if she had an interest in it because you can learn a lot from it grow as a person and have experiences of a lifetime.
how is your sister finding the experience? does she interpret for you at all times or just for pageant duties? how does she feel about your success and would she have liked to compete?
my sister loves the experience of interpreting for me on stage and events! whenever i am in need of an interpreter she is always there to support me. she is very proud of everything i have achieved as i have broken many barriers to prove that nothing is impossible. my sister has never wanted to compete as it is not something she is passionate about though she has loved the experience she has had with me in the worldwide finals and my duties.
do you have any words of advice to the new set of contestants?
my message to everyone is to never give up on your dreams. anything is possible in life. simply dream believe and achieve.
local flairthe uae’s budding miss india worldwide sanna monga shares her hopes
taking the title of miss india uae only a week ago dubai resident and new delhi native sanna monga has been thrust into the action once more – competing in this friday’s grand finale of the miss india worldwide competition.
having also recently graduated from middlesex university in knowledge village with a degree in international business it has been a hectic few months for the 21-year old.
“it has been a rollercoaster ride” sanna said over the phone from a sharjah dessert safari trip with the other contestants on monday. “i was looking for a job or thinking about doing a mba and then this happened.
“i’m feeling confident though. i don’t want to give away too much but i am looking forward to the talent portion of the contest where i will be dancing to bollywood songs.
sanna told us that winning miss india uae and entering the worldwide pageant has thrown a spanner in the works as to her future’s certainty.
“now i am not planning anything until after friday” she said. “this is a life-defining moment. if i win who knows? i would be open to moving back to india if the right opportunities presented themselves. this is why i waited until my graduation was near to begin entering competitions even though i have been interested in them since the age of three.”
when it comes to her strategy for friday sanna’s approach is simple: be yourself.
“that’s all i can be and hopefully that will count for a lot.”