A 20-year-old popular Buddhist model and music video star Thursday prevailed over Nepal's Maoists as well as 14 other contenders to walk off with the Miss Nepal 2009 crown held under the shadow of Maoist threats.
Zenisha Moktan, the winner, comes from the Tamang community, one of the poorest and underprivileged communities in Nepal and the worst victims of human trafficking. The second runner-up, Richa Thapa Magar, also comes from an ethnic community that every year sends its sons to the British and Indian Army to serve in the Gorkha brigades.
Zenisha, who had won the Miss Tamang contest in 2006 and is a self-confessed Coca-Cola addict, wowed the judges when asked to narrate an untold experience. She said as a tenth grader, she was to have played Eliza Doolittle in the musical 'My Fair Lady'.
However, she was dropped at the last moment. Though it made her cry herself to bed at night, she said it also stiffened her resolve to stand up and fight every time she fell.
The nearly three-hour pageant, attended by four former Miss Nepals, saw the new Nepal ambassador to India, Rukma Shumsher Rana, crown the new queen. Rana is also the chairman of Dabur Nepal, the main sponsor of the pageant.
Two hours before the contest started, 11 Maoist organisations, which Wednesday had warned they would put up a strong protest, held a half-hearted demonstration in front of the Tribhuvan Army Club where the venue had been shifted.
Police said it was a symbolic protest with no violence. No one was arrested.
The 15-year-old pageant, which had in the past faced mild protests, could not be held last year after the Maoists came to power and waged war on it.
However, since they had allowed dozens other similar contests to be held, their anger was seen to be actually directed against the Indian company that is the main sponsor of Miss Nepal, Dabur Nepal, the wholly owned subsidiary of Dabur India.
After the fall of the Maoist government this year, the Hidden Treasure, the event management company franchised to hold the contest, decided to go ahead with a low-key show.
It is now being positioned as the Fem Miss Nepal contest since very few people in Nepal are aware that Dabur has bought out Fem.
Zenisha will take part in the Miss World contest to be held in Johannesburg in December while Richa will participate in the Miss Earth 2009 contest in the Philippines next month.