Miss India-DC Pageant: Talent, Intellect and Beauty Come to the Fore

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September 25, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

Rockville, MD – In one of the most entertaining events of the year offering a fine platform for local talent to thrive and flourish, Juhee Jain was crowned Miss India-DC 2013.  The svelte beauty was followed by Supreet Malhi and Preeti Deol, first and second runners-up, respectively. 

September 25, 2013

By Geeta Goindi

Rockville, MD – In one of the most entertaining events of the year offering a fine platform for local talent to thrive and flourish, Juhee Jain was crowned Miss India-DC 2013.  The svelte beauty was followed by Supreet Malhi and Preeti Deol, first and second runners-up, respectively. 

Winners of the 2013 Miss India-DC Pageant.  From left to right: Preeti Deol, second runner-up; Supreet Malhi, first runner-up; and the winner Juhee Jain.  Photo credit: Sarosh Photography

All three girls will now compete in the national Miss India USA pageant to be held in New Jersey, on November 24, and the winner will then head to the international contest in New Zealand, early next year.

On September 21, 2013, Saturday evening, over 300 people attended a high-energy event at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, in the Rockville Civic Center Park.  Now in its nineteenth 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.  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, founder and CEO of MyDosti.com, a popular news portal and social networking site.

Neena, in full control, co-hosted the event with her 13-year-old daughter Ria.  In all, there were ten contestants: Ketki Chavan, Sonali Gupta, Mariam Thomas, Kaavya Rao, Harleen Tur, Anshita Joshi, Sanjana Stephen and the three winners.

At the 19th annual Miss India-DC pageant, held September 21 in Rockville, are seen from left to right: Preeti Deol, second runner-up; Supreet Malhi, first runner-up; organizer Neena Bhaskar; the winner Juhee Jain; and Priyam Bhargava, Miss India USA 2013 and Miss India-DC 2012

Pageants have come a long way from merely showcasing beauty.  The contestants of Miss India-DC are pursuing higher studies while striving to excel in their workplace and community.  These are ambitious young ladies equipped with the right attitude, verve and vision – all sure to take them places!

The winner, Juhee Jain, is 23 years old and has her own creative, performing arts and event management company, Dil Se Studios.  She graduated from the George Washington University with majors in Fine Arts and Psychology.  Juhee is from Herndon and now lives in New York.  Supreet Malhi, 22, is from Baltimore, has a BA in International Studies and is applying to law schools.  Her goal is to work in the field of international human rights.  Preeti Deol is 22 years old, from Fairfax, VA, a full-time student whose major is Biology and objective is medical school.

Judging the competition were well known and enterprising individuals from diverse fields, all successful in their own right, and included: Sarah Christian, Miss Maryland United States, a Lieutenant in the US Navy Nurse Corps who currently works at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda; Arun Chawla, CPA; Nilima Mehra, Producer of Global Television Network; Deepali Shah, franchise owner; Nitin Adsul, film-maker; Chander Bajaj, fashion designer; Anita Bhatia, owner of Gold City; and Mirin Phool who runs a beauty salon and heads the Kaur Foundation.

This has been a celebratory week for Indians around the world as Nina Davuluri made history by being the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss America 2014. The brouhaha, the racial, misinformed, ill-founded slurs which followed her victory have subsided and she is enjoying the fruits of her sweet success.

It is only appropriate that for the important question-answer round at the Pageant in Rockville, contestants were asked what they thought about the objections to Nina being crowned Miss America because of her origin.  On a positive note, participants expressed confidence in the ability to rise and succeed in America, a land of opportunity!

Sarah Christian, who was crowned Miss Maryland United States in February, told INDIA THIS WEEK, “I was really happy to see an Indian-American woman win.  I know she has had to overcome a lot of things this week”.  Sarah commended Nina for stepping up to the challenge, raising awareness about different cultures and promoting diversity.   “So, I’m really proud of her.  She is absolutely gorgeous”, she gushed.

Sarah Christian, Miss Maryland United States

On her own part, Sarah admitted pageants are new to her; she competed for the first time, stepping on unknown terrain.  “I wasn’t sure what I was going to experience”, she said.  “But, when I won, I have had the most fun.  I have learnt so much in the last eight months.  I have got so much better at public speaking.  Just the experiences with people I have met, there is nothing that I will be able to compare to this”.

We were impressed to learn that Sarah ran on a platform of Wounded Warriors and she is using her title to serve the community.  She is affiliated with the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation which is a non-profit organization for homeless veterans.  “It helps local homeless veterans in the DC area”, Sarah explained.  “There are over 2,000 homeless veterans in the DC area and the cost of living is just so high.  To be able to find them housing, furniture, just helping this organization is what I am geared towards”.

Sarah epitomizes the new crop of pageant winners.  “So many women are so well educated and so smart and they really want to do other things”, she told us.  “The Pageant is just one night, but you have your title for a year.  So, the ones who stand up, like Nina who just won, are the girls who can get up there and really make a difference and teach people what they are really interested in”.

Priyam Bhargava, Miss India USA 2013 and Miss India-DC 2012, is flanked by members of the Nrityaki Dance Academy headed by Shweta Mishra (second from left) at the 2013 Miss India-DC Pageant

Priyam Bhargava who won the Miss India-DC title last year and the national competition this year becoming Miss India USA 2013, has chosen South Asian Youth Action (SAYA), based in New York, to serve and just give back!  Priyam told us, “When you think about the Indian-American community in the US, they are generally doctors, lawyers, fairly well educated.  What people don’t know is that there are actually a number of South Asians who are living under the poverty level.  In Brooklyn and Queens, New York, about 20 percent are living under the federal poverty line.  So, this organization caters to them”.

Priyam subscribes to the view that winning a pageant goes beyond physical characteristics.  “You can have a beautiful face, but if you don’t know how to carry yourself, that’s going to show on stage”, she said.  About the contestants of Miss India-DC 2013, she noted, “These girls are showing traits of their personality, how confident they are, and how comfortable they are in their skin”.

The Raaga DC group performed Bollywood fusion dances at the 2013 Miss India-DC Pageant.  Standing second from left is Trisha Miglani, co-founder and co-director of the Raaga Dance Company

Year-after-year, an integral part of the Washington area Pageant are the cultural performances which enhance the appeal of the event!  On Saturday, artistes of the Raaga Dance Company, founded by 16-year-old Trisha Miglani and Shreya Navile, regaled the audience with Bollywood fusion dances.  In one segment, they highlighted Indian folk dances celebrating the harvest, Holi – the festival of colors, and Ganesha Chaturthi.  Blessed with good looks and talent aplenty, Trisha will make a very promising contestant in this Pageant when she comes of age!

Students of Studio Dhoom, founded and directed by Aanal Sheth (fourth from left) and based in Ashburn, danced to popular Bollywood beats at the 2013 Miss India-DC Pageant, in Rockville

Traditional Kathak and fusion dances were presented by students of the Nrityaki Dance Academy headed by Shweta Mishra, a beauty herself!  Students of Studio Dhoom, founded by Aanal Sheth and based in Ashburn, danced to popular Bollywood beats, and for the finale, there was a Punjabi folk bhangra by the all girls team of the DC Metro Punjabi Arts Academy (DCMPAA) which has locations in Ashburn, Germantown and Elkridge.

The all girls team of the DC Metro Punjabi Arts Academy (DCMPAA) performed the fast-paced Bhangra dance at the 2013 Miss India-DC Pageant, in Rockville, on Saturday

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”.

Neena elaborated, “Next year is a milestone: 20 years of the Miss India-DC Pageant.  We would like to partner with some large firms and some educational causes to make this event even bigger and better.  The show consists of local talent and we need the support of the community to encourage them”!


Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM