A controversy arose over the selection process for the winner of the Manali "winter queen" contest, the prime event of the winter carnival that draws large crowds every year despite the bone chilling cold every year.
Disgruntled over the judges' verdict, a model from the tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti, Kiran Bodh, who was disqualified in the second round of the contest, alleged there were irregularities in the selection process.
According to Bodh, "Though the criteria for the contestants' age and height - 18 to 25 years and 5.3 inches - had already been decided, it was found in the second round many participants who were not fulfilling these conditions had been selected, which reveals irregularities in the system."
To increase the grace of winter carnival, this time the organizing committee outsourced the auditions for the winter queen contest to the Charu Castle Foundation, which took the audition even out of state to select the participants for the contest. However, Bodh accused its officials of being "biased" and "uncooperative" with her and "chiding" her when she tried to raise the issue.
'This kind of maltreatment with the participants would affect the grace of festival, which gives opportunity to Himachali girls to display their talent on the stage. Participants hailing from other states have been provided accommodation in luxury hotels, while participants of our own state were not, which reveals the partiality with the contestants," she added.
When asked to comment about the matter, Vinay Dheeman, Manali subdivisional magistrate and the vice president of the winter carnival committee, refuted the allegations, saying: "All norms decided by the authority are being properly followed and we are trying our best to raise the charm of this festival, which generally every year organized for to draw in tourists during the winter season."
The final round of the contest for the winter queen, which will be held on Tuesday evening, will see stiff competition among the final ten contestants.