Ayushka Singh, a student from Las Vegas, has been crowned Miss India USA 2006, the longest running Indian pageant outside the country that celebrated its silver anniversary this year.
Singh, 19, a second year student representing Nevada state, will represent USA in the 16th Annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant to be held in March 2007.
She was crowned by outgoing Miss India USA 2005 and current Miss India Worldwide, Trina Chakravarty at a glittering function organised on December 24 by the New York-based India Festival Committee (IFC) at the Royal Albert's Palace, Fords, New Jersey.
Singh, who enjoys reading adventurous novels and dancing to ethnic tunes, also won the title of Miss Beautiful Smile as well as Best Talent playing the dhol and dancing to the music of "Bombay Dreams".
On graduation, Singh plans to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Nisha Mirchandani, 25 of New York and Ankita Baxi of Illinois were declared first and second runner up among 26 contestants in the gala event attended by over 600 people.
Shilpa Mamidi of California and Richa Gangopadhyay of Michigan were the other two of the five finalists.
Winners of the various sub-contests were Hardeep Chahil of Michigan - Miss Photogenic, Soni Kumar of Missouri - Miss Beautiful Eyes, Richa Gangopadhyay of Michigan - Miss Congeniality and Farah Majid of Florida - Miss Popularity.
IFC founder Dharmatma Saran presented appreciation plaque to Albert Jasani of Royal Albert's Palace, Sudhir Vaishnav of Sahara One and Jayesh Metha of Aum Events for their support in organising the event.
The other major sponsors of the event were Air India, Maaza Beverages and American Airlines.
The panel of judges included Dr. Neena Malhotra, cultural counsellor from the Indian consulate, Dr Shashi Agarwal,cardiologist, Toral Mehta from the hit show Apprentice, Farook Khan, national director Miss India South Africa and Hordy Cheng, supermodel.