NRI PULSE NEWS DESK
Photos by Bikash Mitra
Shivani Gandhi, an 18-year-old freshman at Georgia State
University was crowned Ms India GA at a glittering ceremony
held at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center July 19. Avanti
Patel, a 14-year-old rising sophomore at Alpharetta High
School won the Ms Teen India GA title. The annual beauty
pageant was organized by the India America Cultural
The winners will represent Georgia in the Ms India USA and
the Ms Teen India USA pageants later this year.
Sonya Thaper was first runner-up and Tina Thapar
second-runner up in the Ms India GA pageant. In the Teen Ms
India GA segment, Sonali Shah was first runner-up and Rucha
Shrotriya second runner-up.
Shivani Gandhi, a Bharat Natyam dancer of repute and a two
time Boogie Woogie Chalo America Atlanta regional winner and
national contestant, also won the Ms Talent and the Ms
Photogenic sub contests. Sonali Shah won the Best Eyes and
the Perfect 10 contests, while the Best Smile title went to
Sonya Thaper. Minutha Mahadevaiah was named Ms Congeniality.
Around 500 people attended the pageant, which showcased the
amazing talents, poise and confidence of the participants.
The young women were judged for poise, grace, talent,
confidence, style and talent. There was an evening gown
segment, a talent segment, and an Indian outfit round. In
the talent round, while most participants danced to
Bollywood hits, a few tried to fuse classical Kuchipudi and
Bharatanatyam elements and belly dancing to their
performances. There was also a piano recital and some baton
and flag twirling.
Five participants from each pageant were selected to move on
to the finals. These ten top scorers then randomly picked
their judge’s name from a bowl for their Q&A round.
The confidence, composure and intelligence of the young
ladies in the Q&A round was far beyond their age as they
answered the question posed to them by their judge for the
evening. The questions ranged from issues like giving back
to the community to naming their role model in Atlanta to
the biggest crisis facing America today.
The over four-hour long program ended with the crowing of
the new queens by last year’s winners, outgoing Ms India GA
Roshni Devlia and outgoing Ms Teen India GA Ruhee Gadhia.
The pageant was directed and partially emceed by Anita
Gupta. Sonia Seernani, who was contest coordinator, also
doubled as emcee during the first half of the show. Sandy
Verma was the other emcee for the evening. The hard work of
the team showed in the results- a very professionally
conducted pageant with attention paid to every little
The amazingly talented Prem Rehman and his troupe
entertained the audiences with high-octane dance numbers.
The judges for the pageant were Timmi Verma, Jessy Lall,
Mrunalee Patil, Anil Khatod, Hardeep Melamed, Tony Patel,
Sheetal Desai, Anish Patel, Komal Seernani, Kelly Mendez,
Ranee Sharma, Nima Wadhwani and NRI Pulse editor Veena Rao.
IACA President Surinder Bahl, in his address, thanked the
contestants, parents, coordinators and the emcees for
putting together a wonderful evening. “It is great to be
Indian-American, but do not lose your (Indian) heritage,”
was his advice to young, second generation Indian-Americans.
Paddy Sharma, vice-president of the IACA board of directors,
commended the team effort that went into the program and
exulted in the fact that it was the 19th year that the
cultural association was organizing the beauty pageant.
The tri-colored torch was lit during the evening. Over 1000
people will carry the torch around Atlanta until it reaches
the Gwinnett Civic Center on August 16th where the annual
Festival of India will be held to celebrate India’s
A sari clad Claire McLeveighn, director of external affairs
and international relations for the City of Atlanta, was a
guest at the pageant.