Beauty, Talent and Entertainment Mark Local Miss India-DC Pageant

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September 19, 2012

By Geeta Goindi

Rockville, MD – In a contest predicated on personality, with a generous dollop of good looks, the lucky winners of the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant held on Saturday, September 15th, were: Priyam Bhargava, 25, who bagged the title; Karem Saund, 21, first runner-up; and Divita Vohra, 17, second runner-up. 

September 19, 2012

By Geeta Goindi

Rockville, MD – In a contest predicated on personality, with a generous dollop of good looks, the lucky winners of the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant held on Saturday, September 15th, were: Priyam Bhargava, 25, who bagged the title; Karem Saund, 21, first runner-up; and Divita Vohra, 17, second runner-up. 

The winners of the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant are, from left to right: Karem Saund, first runner-up; Divita Vohra, second runner-up; and Priyam Bhargava who was crowned the winner

These young ladies will compete in the national pageant to be held next year, in New York, and the winner will then head to the international pageant.  So, for Priyam, Karem and Divita, it is a long and interesting road ahead!

On Saturday, some 300 people attended an entertaining event held at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, in the Rockville Civic Center Park.  Now in its eighteenth year, the Miss India-DC Pageant is a feather in the cap of its organizers, the well known husband and wife team of Sibtain Kazmi and Neena Bhaskar.  Both are busy individuals in their own right: Sibtain, or Sib as he is called, owns a mortgage company, A Money Matter Mortgage, Inc., and Neena is an IT Project Manager at the World Bank.

The winners of the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant with the organizer Neena Bhaskar (third from left). Seen from left to right are: Divita Vohra, second runner-up; the winner Priyam Bhargava; Neena; and Karem Saund, first runner-up

Inspite of their hectic schedules, they put up a good show year-after-year and this time was no exception!  Lending considerable support to the event was Raaghavan Chellappan, Co-founder and CEO of MyDosti.com Inc., a popular social networking platform.

According to the organizers, “the purpose of this show is to provide the younger generation a platform to showcase their talents and an opportunity to participate in something culturally enriching”.

It is noteworthy that the program is fast-paced with never a dull moment!  Neena, in full control, confidence personified, co-hosted the event with her 12-year-old daughter Ria.

The Pageant comprised four segments: Indian dress competition; evening gown competition; performances; and the quintessential question-and-answer round for the five finalists.

In all, there were nine contestants from the Washington  Metro region as follows:


  • Shubhangi Sharma, 24, of Springfield, a patient coordinator whose interests include dancing, cooking and painting;

  • Mehwish Qureshi, 24, of Ellicott City, a health policy analyst as well as an avid sports woman who loves basketball, snowboarding and hiking;

  • Neelam Shah, 25, of Baltimore, who enjoys writing, learning new languages, dancing and drawing;

  • Supriya Pattanaik 19, of Centreville, a full-time student and assistant teacher at La Petite Academy with a penchant for Kathak dance and working with children;

  • Divita Vohra, 17, of Great Falls, a student at Langley High School who enjoys singing, dancing, playing the guitar and piano;

  • Priyam Bhargava, 25, of Arlington, a law student at the George Washington University who likes to travel, plays tennis and enjoys salsa dancing;

  • Sonia Chavan, 18, a business and pre-medical student who likes swimming, soccer and dancing;

  • Karem Saund, 21, of Fairfax, a student of psychology whose interests include writing, baking desserts and running; and

  • Rinky Pamnani, 25, of Ellicott City, who likes dancing, painting, stamp collection, interior designing and baking.

On hand were well known judges of our area including: Mrs. Nilima Mehra, popular television hostess and producer of Global Television Network (GTV); Manan Singh Katohora, a film-maker; Mirin Phool, who owns and manages a beauty salon in Rockville; Aasieya Husain, winner of the 2010 Miss India-DC pageant; Priti Malhotra, fashion designer and a real estate agent; Arushi Sharma, former contestant of the Miss India-DC Pageant (2010); and Chander Bajaj who has a background in fashion designing.

Students of the Raaga Dance Company, based in Potomac and Gaithersburg, performed Bollywood fusion dances at the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant organized by Neena Bhaskar (top – center)

All the judges were delighted to be part of the Pageant calling it a “great initiative by Sib and Neena, year after year, giving so much exposure to local talent”.  One of the judges, Manan, said to INDIA THIS WEEK, “it was lovely to see some girls bring their fathers along for the evening gown round.  I think that speaks so much about the perfect mix of western sensibilities and eastern values”.

Mrs. Nilima Mehra informed us that she has been judging the pageant since its inception.  “I am proud to be a part and parcel of this event”, she gushed.  “It has grown in size.  Both Neena and Sib work very hard”.  She strongly believed the pageant serves as a great “medium for young girls to show their talent and be recognized locally and nationally”.

Students of Studio Dhoom based in Ashburn, VA, with Neena Bhaskar (center), organizer of the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant

Sonia, a contestant, told us that it was a privilege to be part of the Miss India-DC Pageant.  “It was one experience I will never forget”, she said.  “All the contestants were nice and we soon became good friends.  Ms. Neena devoted a lot of her time to make sure that the show is perfect.  The pageant has given me a higher confidence level and has helped me to meet other amazing, talented, beautiful and smart Indian women”.

Students of the Raaga Dance Company, based in Potomac and Gaithersburg, with Trisha Miglani (top, third from left) and Shreya Navile (top, fourth from left), co-founders and directors of the company. They performed Bollywood fusion dances at the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant

The competition was interspersed with entertaining acts which enhanced the appeal of the event!  Students and teachers of the Raaga Dance Company, headed by Trisha Miglani and Shreya Navile, regaled the audience with Bollywood fusion dances.  The company, based in Potomac and Gaithersburg, was founded earlier this year, in January, by Trisha and Shreya, 15-year-old students at Winston Churchill High School, in Potomac.  It has grown to 30 students and classes will now be offered for adults in the Bollywood fusion style which Trisha and Shreya explained to us is a mix of Bollywood, salsa and belly dancing.

Students of the Nrityaki Dance Academy, founded by Shweta Mishra (center) at the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant held September 15, in Rockville

A good number of engaging performances followed including: a graceful Kathak fusion dance by students of the Nrityaki Dance Academy founded and directed by Shweta Mishra.

Members of the George Mason University Bhangra team performed the traditional Punjabi dance at the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant held in Rockville. Seen from left to right are Angad Jaggi, Muskan Saini, Parul Mittal and Yasser Ansari

The fast-paced traditional Punjabi dance by members of the George Mason University Bhangra team – Angad Jaggi, Muskan Saini, Parul Mittal and Yasser Ansari – who performed with commendable energy; and Bollywood dances by students of Studio Dhoom, founded by Aanal Sheth and based in Ashburn.

Students of Studio Dhoom with their teacher and choreographer Aanal Sheth (center) at the 2012 Miss India-DC Pageant, in Rockville.

The Miss India-DC Pageant serves as a great local platform to showcase talent.

Click below to view photographs from the Miss India-DC Pageant held on September 15th 2012:

http://www.mydosti.com/photos/albuminfo.aspx?alid=434&name=18_Miss_India_DC_2012_Pagean