Los Angeles, Calif. — As Saturday night spilled into Sunday morning, a capacity crowd inside the main ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel witnessed the crowning of several new pageant winners at the 22nd Mr. and Miss India America 2014 contest on Aug. 23.
When the Miss India America 2014 title — the evening’s top prize — was finally announced, the pageant winners celebrated their respective crowns at an official after party and contemplated the new responsibilities that came with the new title bestowed upon them.
Hosted by Jinnder Chohan’s Spirit of India and presented by India Star Plus, Wells Fargo, South Asia Magazine, Life OK, and JINmodels.com, the pageant featured some two dozen contestants vying for titles including India Globe, India Global, India Galaxy, India America, Beauty of India, People’s Choice Award and Photogenic.
Maya Sarihan claimed Miss India America 2014, while Vivica Mitra, an actress who had appeared in the Bollywood film “Singh Is Kinng,” was named Miss India Global 2014 and JINmodels.com Miss Photogenic 2014.
Other female winners: Miss India Globe 2014 was won by Meghana Pagadala; Miss India Galaxy 2014 Nishtha Chawla of Virginia; Miss Teen India America 2014 and Star TV’s People’s Choice awardee Trisha Batra; and Miss India West Coast 2014 Jackie Kahlon.
On the male side, Nick Thakor earned the Mr. India America 2014 crown, while Canadian native Kunwar Dodd claimed the Mr. India Globe 2014 sash. Also winning titles were Shawn Singh for Mr. India Global 2014, and New Yorker Prakash Patil for Mr. India Galaxy 2014.
Dhaval Panchal of North Carolina claimed Mr. India East Coast 2014 and Star TV’s People’s Choice award. Claiming Mr. India West Coast 2014 and JINmodels.com Mr. Photogenic 2014 was Maneet Singh.
Contestants were judged on their poise, confidence, and talent as demonstrated during the fashion show and talent segments of the pageant.
Beyond the actual pageant, a few film and television personalities attended the pageant, including Bollywood film director and producer Anurag Kashyap and actresses Alice Amter (“Big Bang Theory”), Agam Darshi (“Sanctuary”), Natasha Blasick (“Paranormal Activity”) and Bai Ling (“The Crow” and “Red Corner”).
Ling was one also honored during the pageant with the Elite Award for lifetime achievement. She has starred in dozens of films and television programs, both in Hollywood and abroad.
The 47-year-old Chinese-born actress who starred in films such as “Wild Wild West” and television programs such as “Entourage” said she is enamored with Indian culture and was honored to be a part of the Mr. and Miss India Pageant.
“I’m a big fan of Bollywood and Indian culture. I love the music and I love the food. It would be great to work on a Hollywood-Bollywood-China project one of these days,” Ling told India-West.
Also presented with an Elite Award for Exceptional Achievement was Kashyap. The Indian filmmaker, who had directed films such as “Gangs of Wasseypur” and “Black Friday,” made a name for himself as an influential independent director.
Saleena Khamamkar, who was the 2013 Miss India Globe, handed her crown to Mitra. She said being honored with a sash and crown in both 2012 and 2013 were life-changing events.
“The crown and title from this pageant has honestly opened up many doors. Not only professionally, but also through the people I have met, the events I have been able to attend, and the friendships I have made,” Khamamkar told India-West. “I entered the pageant asking, ‘What’s the harm in participating?’ and after being a titleholder for a couple years, I truly believe that it has changed my life. The memories and professional advice I have received are invaluable.”
She added each of this year’s winners should “take advantage of this new title.”
“Many opportunities arise, but it’s up to you to make something out of them,” Khamamkar said.
Supporting the pageant for many years, Kamlesh Chauhan said the Mr. and Miss India event is valuable in providing its participants an avenue to grow.
Chauhan talked to India-West about a contestant she met early in the evening from Afghanistan. The contestant explained to Chauhan how the pageant experience gave her the confidence she needed to grow as an individual and then turn around to find a way to make a difference in the life of others.
More information about Spirit of India and its pageants may be found at www.SpiritOfIndia.com.
View a photo gallery of the event here.