FORDS, NJ—New England, which gave Miss India USA in 2013 and the country’s first ever Mrs. India USA in 2014, lost its two-year top winning streak in 2015 as Karina Kohili of New York was crowned Miss India USA, Aanchal Shah of Florida as Miss Teen India USA and Neha Multani Verma of New York as Mrs. India USA .
Miss India USA is the oldest running Indian pageant outside of India. The 34th annual pageant was organized earlier this month by the New York-based IFC, which is headed by Dharmatma Saran, founder and the chief organizer of the pageant. A record number of 55 contestants took part in this year’s pageant that was held at the Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, New Jersey.
Ruchika Arora, Miss India USA’s New England Pageant Director, said New England lost its top winning streak, but did quite well overall.
“The results this year for New England area at national pageant ‘Miss India USA’-2015 are better than any previous years,” Arora told INDIA New England News. “We had one finalist in Miss category, two in Teen, and two in Mrs category.”
Arora said that Akila Narayanan, a high school student from Shrewsbury, MA, and a trained singer aspiring to join Berklee college of Music, became first runner up for Miss India Teen USA, and Sheetal Kelkar, a model and choreographer from Nashua, NH, became first runner up for Mrs India USA. Nikita Kodali from Pelham, NH, a student at MIT and a Kuchipudi dancer and Bhangra captain became finalist and presented her dance talent among selected 10 on grand finale. Radhika Treon (Mrs) and Shirin Bakre(Teen) also became finalists from Massachusetts. Aishwarya Balaji received title as ‘Miss Beautiful Hair’, and Anita Ganesan as ‘Miss Beautiful Eyes’.
“New England team did not receive the crown for winner in any category but mostly difference between a winner and finalist is a strong opinion of one or two judges among others in a panel,” Arora said. “I am very proud of all contestants who went to New Jersey as a team.”
In Fords this year, the three top crowns went to Kohili of New York as Miss India USA, Shah of Florida as Miss Teen India USA and Verma of New York as Mrs. India USA.
Kohli, 18, is studying acting at New York University. She was crowned by outgoing queen Pranathy Gangaraju. Kohli will represent the USA in the Twenty Fifth Annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant, also organized by IFC, to be held in New York, USA in September 2016.
Nandini Iyer, 27, of New Jersey and Visakha Sundar, 21, of Virginia, were respectively declared first and second runners up among 20 contestants from various parts of the country, in the gala event attended by over five hundred people. The other two five finalists were Karishma Malhotra from New York and Nicky Kandola from Virginia.
Shah, 16, is from Florida and she would like to become an oncologist. She was crowned Miss Teen India USA among seventeen other contestants. The first runner up in Teen was Akila Narayanan, 17, from Massachusetts and the second runner up was Rhea Manjrekar 16, from New York. The other two finalists were Manjari Parikh from New York and Shirin Bakre from Massachusetts. The sub-contest winners in Teen section were – Manjari Parikh – Miss Talented, Aanchal Shah – Miss Congeniality, Akila Narayanan – Miss Social Media and Simran Kota – Miss Photogenic.
Verma, 29, is an executive with a large real estate corporation. The first runner up is Sheetal Kelkar, 36, from New Hampshire and the second runner up is Aradhana Thawani Padilla, 24, from Texas. The other two top five were Radhika Treon from Massachusetts and Protyusha DasNeogi from Washington State. The sub-contest winners in Mrs. Section were Chhavi Gupta – Mrs. Congeniality, Aradhana Thawani – Mrs. Photogenic and Pavana Gadde – Mrs. Social Media.
The pageant started with a stunning performance by all the contestants led by the outgoing queens Miss India USA – Pranathy Gangaraju, Miss Teen India USA – Riya Kaur and Mrs. India USA Namita Dodwadkar choreographed by Shilpa Jhurani. All contestants presented their best in the Indian and the Evening Gown segment after which the top ten were selected. The top ten contestants from Miss section then amazed the audience with their talent which included Bollywood dances, Indian classical dances, contemporary dancing and singing. In the Miss section Nandini Iyer was awarded Miss Talented.
Winners of the other various sub-contests were Miss Congeniality – Visakha Sundar, Miss Social Media – Nandini Iyer, Miss Photogenic – Akshaya Vijaykumar, Miss Bollywood Divya – Spoorthy Bharadwaj, Miss Catwalk – Ishpreet Gill, Miss Beautiful Hair – Aishwarya Balaji, Miss Beautiful Smile – Karishma Malhotra, Miss Popularity – Nandini Iyer, Miss Beautifu Eyes – Anita Ganesan, Miss Beautiful Skin – Piyali Nath.
Dharmatma Saran, Chairman and Founder of the pageant, presented an appreciation plaque to H. R. Shah , Albert Jasani, Nishi Bahl and Shilpa Jhurani for their support in organizing this year pageant. “I am very thankful to the Indian community for its support through the years,” said Dharmatma Saran, “and especially thankful to H.R. Shah and Albert Jasani for supporting the pageant.”
Trina Chakravarty, Roshi George, and Asma Molu were emcees for the function and Nishi Bahl was the choreographer assisted by Shilpa Jhurani.
The panel of judges included Raissa Nagapin – National Director of Miss India Guadelope, Chandra Mouli – Film Producer, Neetu Thomas – Fashion Designer, Subbu Sundaravelu – Director of SAP Managed Services at ProMorphics LLC and Ines Hernandez- Fashion Designer and Political Activist. Dharmangi Bhatia, CPA, was the official accountant.
Pictures Courtesy of Suresh Jilla and John Martin.