In a spectacular function held on July 26th, Subrina Dhammi of Poughkeepsie, New York was crowned Maaza Miss India New York 2003. Subrina, 21, a junior at Syracuse University, majoring in Broadcast journalism, plans to pursue a career in the same field. The first runner-up position went to Anjali Bhardwaj, 20, Manhasset Hills, New York, and the second runner-up was Diva Ranade, 17, of Staten Island, New York. The other two finalists in the top-five were Neerja Chaturvedi of Manhattan and Aarthi Bathija of Bayport, New York.
Organized by the IFC, a pioneer in organizing pageants and fashion shows, the pageant was held at the Hindu Temple Auditorium in Flushing, Queens. Fourteen contestants from the New York area were selected after an audition to participate in this year’s event.
The curtain opened with a classic medley “kaise samjhaoon?” followed by an Adnan Sami number performed by outgoing Miss India New York, Amrita Persaud, who led all the contestants to the stage. A crowd over seven-hundred strong cheered all the contestants with a round of applause. The contestants participated in the Evening gown segment, followed by Talent, and then Indian dress. During these segments, the audience and the judges got to know more about the contestants and their accomplishments.
The talent segment brought out the best in the contestants as well as the best of the rich traditions of diverse Indian culture. The unique element one could not miss among the items performed was that the vast majority of contestants were second-generation Indian-Americans, and yet most of the items presented were of Indian origin.
Exciting entertainment items were performed by child performer Nikita Gayaram and Sonalee Vyas’s dance group “Naach Sensation.” A special performance as done by Vijachander Telidevara as Sai Baba.
Then came the announcement of winners. The Best Talent Award went to Subrina, who had performed a traditional Bharat Natyam piece known as “Thilana.” The top five finalists were Aarthi Bathija, Anjali Bhardwaj, Neerja Chaturvedi, Subrina Dhammi, and Diva Ranade. After a question-answer segment with the five finalists, Diva was announced as Second Runner-Up, Aarthi as First Runner-Up, and Subrina as the winner. The winners will represent New York in the Twenty-Second Annual Miss India USA to be held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Edison, New Jersey on August 24th, also organized by the IFC. After having been held in cities such as San Francisco, Tampa, Dallas, and Los Angeles, the Miss India USA returns to the Tri-State area this year.
Air-India gave a round-trip ticket to India to the winner and the other prizes were furnished by Apra Bhandari, Goodluck Worldwide, Karishma Boutique, Sam & Raj, and IFC.
Dharmatma Saran, Founder and Chief Organizer of the event, thanked the community for its support and presented appreciation plaques to Mr. Rajagopal of Maaza Beverages and Ms. Seema Andhare of Air-India for their enthusiastic support in organizing the pageant. The Women’s Achievement Award was given to Mrs. Chandra Harpaul, the only woman President of a Commercial Airline in the world. Mr. Vijaychander Telidevara was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Telegu Cinema.
Choreography of the show was done by Teena Sukhram and the emcees were Bhavna Toor, Megha Lathigara, and Deep Kaur.
The panel of judges was led by Mrs. Seema Andhare, Regional Director of Air-India as Chief Judge, reputed fashion designer Aliya Khan, Telegu film actor Vijaychander Telidevara, educationalist and cultural activist, Lakshmi Sundararaman, and CEO of Universal Airlines, Chandra Harpaul. Tabulation of scores was done by Bhupinder Chopra of Guru Accounting Services.
Pictures by Suresh Jilla & M. N. Akthar