Kim Kumari of New Jersey was crowned Miss India USA 2019 on Sunday, Feb. 17 at Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, New Jersey. At the same event, Vidhi Dave was crowned Mrs. India USA 2019, and Esha Chandra Kode of New Jersey was crowned Miss Teen India USA 2019.
Kumari, 18, is from New Jersey and is planning to be an optometrist and help children in developing countries learn about the importance of eye care. Kumari also won the Best Talent Award for her performance of the Maharashtrian folk dance, Lavni, fusing it with Bhangra.
Dave, 31, from Connecticut, has a Data Scientist degree from Harvard University and is a project manager with an IT company. Her hobbies include dancing including Bharatnatyam, folk and Bollywood. She wants to be a social activist and become a voice for women’s empowerment.
Kode, 16, also won the Miss Talented Award. She aspires to be a top fashion model and movie star and academically she would like to study to be a pediatric surgeon.
The three won the crowns out of 75 finalists from all over the United States, a press release from organizers said. The annual pageant also celebrated the thirty seventh anniversary of Miss India USA.
In the Miss section, Renuka Joseph from New York and Aanchal Shah from Florida were declared First and Second Runners Up respectively. In the Mrs. division, Amrita Chehil from Ohio and Sowmya Saxena, also from Ohio, were declared First and Second Runners Up respectively. In the Teen section Aishwarya Vallem of Georgia and Tanvi Gujral also from Georgia, were adjudged first and second Runners Up.
Organized by the New York based India Festival Committee (IFC) and chaired by Neelam & Dharmatma Saran, this contest is the longest running Indian pageant outside of India, the press release said.
“I am overwhelmed with the great response this year, with a record number of 75 contestants representing 26 states from the United States,”Chairman & Founder of IFC Dharmatma Saran is quoted saying in the press release.
The pageant started with a stunning performance by all the contestants led b y the outgoing queens Shree Saini and Kavita Malhotra Pattani, choreographed by Shilpa Jhurani.
The contestants presented their best in the Indian and the Evening Gown segment after which the top ten were selected.
The top ten contestants from Miss section then showcased their talent which included Bollywood dances, Indian classical and folk dances, singing and speeches.
Dharmatma Saran presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Bollywood legend Meenakshi Seshadri for her contributions to Indian Motion Picture and performing arts. Seshadri also served as Chief Judge along with Bollywood choreographer Sandip Soparrkar, Indian Latin Actor Prabhakar Sharan, Miss India Worldwide 2017 and a rising singing star Madhu Valli and Dr. Binod Sinha from New Jersey.
The IFC partnered with Ketto, a non-governmental organization based in Mumbai, and started by Bollywood actor Kunal Kapoor and Varun Sheth, to raise funds for PURNATA, an initiative which works to stop human trafficking. More than $8000 was raised with the help of all Mrs. contestants with Mrs. Nikita Shah from Florida raising the maximum amount. Shah was awarded the Mrs. Philanthropist prize.
“We are very proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, tradition, culture and performing arts among Indian origin youth across the world with our motto “bringing India closer,” Dharmatma Saran said.
Bollywood actor Nikkitasha Marwaha, Miss India Worldwide 2009, and Anuradha Maharaj – former Miss India Trinidad, were emcees for the function and Nishi Bahl was the choreographer assisted by Jhurani. This year’s pageant was presented by 27th Investments and supported by TV Asia and Royal Albert’s Palace.
Tabulation was done by Nilesh Choksi CPA assisted by Abiya Malhotra.The crowning was followed by a lavish dinner and dance.
Kumari and Dave will represent the United States in the Miss & Mrs. India Worldwide 2019, to be held in Mumbai in September.