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Neha Multani Crowned Miss India New York 2007

Ajay Ghosh

Neha Multani of Queens, New York, was crowned Maaza Miss India New York 2007, after beating 11 other contestants from New York State in a colorful beauty pageant that was held at the Community Center Auditorium in Flushing, Queens, NY on Sunday, November 11, 2007. A graduate with Bachelor of Science majoring in Public Health, Neha, 21, was declared winner of the 25th annual beauty contest that was attended by over 300 people from across the State. Namitha Thanickal, 21, won the first runner-up title, while the second runner-up was Rattan Kaur, 19, of Sunnyside, New York. The other two finalists among the top-five finalists were Annushka Prabhudayal and Tanzie Variava.

Organized by the India Festival Committee, founded and headed by Dharmatma Saran and his wife, Neelam Saran, the pageant, which was started as annual "India Festival" in Central Park, New York, in 1974, has become the most popular and sought after beauty pageant in North America and around the world. An integral component of these festivals was the immensely popular "Fashion Show," which IFC was the first to provide to the Indian and American communities.

From among the many contestants, twelve were selected to participate in the beauty pageant after an audition. The contestants participated in the Indian segment, Evening gown segment and then  followed by the Talent, which brought out the best among the contestants and gave the audience and the judges an opportunity to know more about the contestants, their talents, beauty, personality, likes and dislikes, goals in life, style, and their accomplishments.

During the talent segment, the contestants exhibited their skills and talents, exhibiting their best through music, speech, and dances, both classical and modern, showcasing the  rich and diverse traditions of 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.

After the final question-answer session, Neha was crowned by the outgoing Miss India New York Nisha Mirchandani with the coveted crown and the shash, as the other two runners up on her side. The Best Talent Award went to Annushka Prabhudayal, who had performed a mix chutney dance and Kajra Re. Namitha Thanickal was named Miss Beautiful Eyes, Shaveta Sachdeva was named Miss Photogenic, while Soofia Ali was named Miss Beautiful Smile.The winners will represent New York in the Twenty Sixth Annual Miss India USA to be held in New Jersey later this year. Miss India USA is the longest running Indian pageant outside India.

Earlier, the curtain opened with the song "maasa allah" from the recently released film Saavaria performed by the outgoing Miss India New York, Nisha Mirchandani, who led all the contestants to the stage. The dance was choreographed by Sonalee Vyas. Exciting entertainment items were provided by Arya Dance Academy, Nartan Rang Dance School, Hindu Temple Youth Club and child performer Nikita. Another highlight of the evening was a dazzling fashion show with top American models and presented by Shekhar Rahate.

Dharmatma Saran, Founder and Chief Organizer of the event, thanked the community for its support and presented appreciation plaques to Rajgopal of Maaza Beverages, Anil Mathur of Air-India and Shekhar Rahate for their enthusiastic support in organizing the pageant. Saran said, ”Starting from the basement of Air-India with an audience of twenty people, we have come a long way! Air-India, Maza, and many other sponsors have remained our staunch supporter from day one and helped us tremendously in our growth internationally.”

Panel of Judges consisted of A.K. Mathur – Regional Director - Air-India, Anna Ling – President – Miss Asia Universe, Praveen Kumar – Consul Community Affairs – Consulate General of India, Anu Vivek – former Miss India and GM Jet Airways and Swati Vaishnav – President – Nartan Rang Dance School. Choreography of the show was done by Shekhar Rahate; the emcees were Bhavna Toor and Shruti Mathur. Tabulation was done by Andy Bose, CPA, assisted by Divya Mathur and Kiran Hari.

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The Five finalsists of Miss India NY 2007

The Contestants at the Miss India New York 2007

The Judges at the Beauty Pageant

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