Twenty-one-year-old Rupal Lakhani, a dance instructor at the Shiamak Davar Institute in Toronto, has been crowned the new Miss India-Canada.
The local Gujarati-origin university student beat 15 contestants to win the crown for 2008. At the jam-packed gala at the city's Double Tree International Hotel over the weekend, Lakhani outscored her opponents in all rounds of the pageant.
The show began with a joint dance performance by all the contestants who came from all parts of Canada. After going through two rounds of quizzing, the contestants lit the stage on fire with their solo dance-and-song performances - from bharatnatyam to hip-hop to jazz to blues to hit Bollywood numbers.
After the preliminary round, the contestants were short-listed to five. These five again went through the final and fourth round of quizzing before the judges adjudged the Gujarati girl the beauty of the year.
Along with the crown, the Gujarati girl took home an array of awards in cash, jewelry and electronics goods offered by various sponsors.
Jet Airways will fly her free to India and Trail Blazer Tours India provide her free hotel accommodation during her stay.
``It feels terrific to win the crown. The Miss India-Canada pageant is a great platform for young South Asian girls in Canada to feel proud of their roots and make a statement about the richness of their culture,'' Lakhani told IANS.
She said she was looking forward to visiting India as the winner of the 2008 crown. "I will try to connect with underprivileged and abused women of India and work with them. My goal is to represent women at the United Nations," she declared.
Pageant organizer Sanjay Agnihotri said: "When we started the beauty show in Canada 18 years ago, there was little understanding of Indian culture and beauty here. Look where we are 18 years later. This pageant produced the likes of Kamal Sidhu and Ruby Bhatia who went on to make it big in the entertainment world."