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Shivani Gandhi wins Miss India Georgia, Avanti Patel is crowned Miss Teen India Georgia

August 2008
Shivani Gandhi wins Miss India Georgia, Avanti Patel is crowned Miss Teen India Georgia

Shivani Gandhi wins Miss India Georgia, Avanti Patel is crowned Miss Teen India Georgia

Shivani Gandhi was crowned Miss India Georgia and Avanti Patel won the Miss Teen India Georgia title at the India American Cultural Association’s (IACA) annual beauty pageant at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center on Saturday, July 19.

Twenty-one charming, graceful and talented young women participated in the four-hour-long show, at the end of which Sonya Thapar and Tina Thapar were declared first and second runners up of the Miss India Georgia title. Sonali Shah emerged the first runner up and Rucha Shrotriya the second runner up in the Miss Teen India Georgia segment.

The evening began with a dance by the contestants, set to the “Maahiya Remix” from the movie Awarapan, choreographed for the evening by Sonia Seernani, Miss India Georgia 2004, who co-hosted the pageant, along with Sandy Verma. Dressed in hot pink tops and black pants, the contestants looked ravishing and graceful. Following the dance, the hosts introduced the panel of 13 judges, who included dignitaries ranging from government officials to entrepreneurs. Surinder Bahl, IACA president, introduced a special guest — Claire McLeveighn, director for external affairs and international relations.

Choreographed by Anita Gupta, the evening gown round showcased an elegant performance marked by poise and grace. Set to the beats of “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake, the first segment was meant to test the contestants’ abilities to “embrace western charm” as pointed out by Verma. Interestingly, most of the Miss India Georgia and Miss Teen India Georgia contestants were either biology or pre-med majors or were interested in pursuing a medical career. The contestants’ introductions brought forth their interests and hobbies, which ranged from dancing and singing to playing the violin and skydiving.

Before the talent segment, the audience was delighted with a dynamic performance by Prem Rahman and his students. The group danced to a medley of “Kismat Konnection,” “It’s Rocking” and “Doob Ja.” The talent competition for Miss India Georgia contestants was marked by a variety of dance performances ranging from Bharatnatyam to hip-hop, with medleys and fusions. Minutha Mahadevaiah was the only contestant whose talent was not dance — she played a beautiful rendition of Robert D. Vandall’s “Eye of the Storm” on the piano. Shivani Gandhi won the Best Talent title, with her exquisite dancing to a medley of “Silsila” and “Dola Re” from the movie Devdas.

After a twenty-minute intermission, the Miss Teen India Georgia contestants displayed their talents, dancing to peppy numbers like “Aaj Ki Raat” from Don and old classics such as “Inhi Logon Ne” from Pakeezah.

The pageant winners from last year, Miss India Georgia Roshni Devlia and Miss Teen India Georgia Ruhee Gadhia, ended their reign with a farewell walk. Among this year’s sub-contest winners were Shivani Gandhi (Miss Photogenic), Sonali Shah (Best Eyes and Perfect Ten), Sonia Thapar (Best Smile) and Minutha Mahadevaiah (Miss Congeniality).

The question-and-answer round saw the participants fielding the judges’ questions with confidence and aplomb. Some of the questions asked were: “How can you keep your culture while fitting in to a different society?” “How are social networks like Facebook affecting society?” “As a second generation Indian, do you feel like giving back to India?” and “What is the one lesson you learned as a child that still helps you today?” The two contestants that impressed the judges most with their answers were Shivani Gandhi and Avanti Patel.

The contestants who made it to the Top Five for the Miss India Georgia title were Tina Thapar, Shivani Gandhi, Smitha Solanki, Shruti Khanna and Sonia Thapar. For the Miss Teen India Georgia title, the Top Five finalists were Rucha Shrotriya, Richa Bharadwaj, Sonali Shah, Avanti Patel and Salima Lalani.

— Supriya Shridharan

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