After a weekend-long competition, Indian-American Vaidehi Dongre has crowned Miss India USA for 2021 on July 18. Arshi Lalani of Georgia was named the first runner-up in the beauty pageant, and Mira Kasari of North Carolina the second runner-up.
25-year-old Dongre from Troy, Michigan, is a graduate from the University of Michigan. At present, she works as a business development manager.
“I want to leave a positive lasting impact on my community and focus on women’s financial independence and literacy,” Dongre was quoted as saying. Dongre, who also won the Miss Talented award for her Kathak performance, is pursuing MA in Kathak at Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune.
In an Instagram post shared after her victory, Dongre said she “strived to be a role model for young girls”.
Thanking her directors, her teachers, the other participants of the pageant and her parents, Dongre wrote, “Aai and Baba– the values you inculcated in me and Vineet at such a young age have given me strength in times of hardship and light in times of darkness.”
As many as 61 contestants from 30 states participated in three different pageants – Miss India USA, Mrs India USA, and Miss Teen India USA.
While school teacher Swathy Vimalkumar from Connecticut was named Mrs India USA 2021, Sonal Dua from North Carolina was declared the first runner-up and Sunitha Shambulingappa from Virginia was declared the second runner-up for the title.
Seventeen-year-old Navya Paingol was named Miss Teen India USA 2021, and Aashna Shah from Florida was the first runner-up for this title. For the same title, Asees Kaur from Virginia was declared the second runner-up.
Winners of all three categories were given complimentary tickets to Mumbai, where they will be taking part in the Miss India Worldwide pageant in October 2021.
Forty years ago, Indian-Americans Dharmatma and Neelam Saran from New York started this pageant under the banner of Worldwide Pageants. Outside India, Miss India USA is the longest-running Indian pageant.
Yash Pandya, a corporate professional, presented the pageant this year. It was supported by TV Asia and Royal Albert’s Palace.
An appreciation plaque was presented by chairman Dharmatma Saran to Indian actress/model/T.V. host Diana Hayden for contributing to pageantry, entertainment, and philanthropy.
“In addition to Bollywood dance and songs on stage, they (contestants) give speeches, do motivational speaking, mono acting, sing popular American songs, hip-hop, paintings,” said Dharmatma Saran. “We are very proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions, cultures and performing arts among Indian origin youth across the world with our motto, ‘bringing India closer.’”
Hayden served as the chief judge for the pageant. Other judges for the pageant included Pandya; Satya Shaw, financial advisor; Shree Saini, Miss India Worldwide 2018; Hanisha Alwani, national director of Miss India Sint Maarten; Reshma Dordi, owner of Reshma Beauty; and Hashim Alli, national director of Miss India Guyana.
Mrs India Worldwide 2019 Tarana Kaur and Mrs India USA 2020 Shruthi Bekal emceed the final event, while the preliminaries were emceed by Kim Kumari, Miss India USA 2019, and Esha Kode Teen India Worldwide.
Nishi Bahl was the choreographer, and Shilpa Jhurani assisted her.