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L-r: MetLife representative Chander Sharma, national first runner-up Jairam Hathwar, MetLife mascot Snoopy, and Spelling Bee founder Rahul Walia

Shourav Dasari correctly spelled the word “Psocoptera” (an order of insects including booklice) during the 2015 MetLife South Asian Spelling Bee finals in New Brunswick, N.J., to clinch the title of national champion, taking home a cash prize of $10,000 from MetLife, a Touchdown Media press release reported.

During the MetLife event Aug.14, which was taped live for broadcast on Sony Entertainment Television, Dasari, along with 23 other finalists, competed for the title.

Jairam Hathwar from Painted Post, N.Y., was the national first runner-up, while Siyona Mishra of Florida and Smrithi Upadyayula of Texas were the national second runners-up.

The event was organized by the South Asian advertising firm Touchdown Media Inc. and sponsored by MetLife, one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Sony Entertainment Television was the exclusive rights holder and broadcast the event across the globe in over 119 countries.

“It’s amazing to see the pool of talent from our community, and I am happy for Shourav’s win and excited to get to know him and some of the other spellers better in the ‘Meet the Speller’ series airing shortly on Sony,” said Jaideep Janakiram, head of North America, Sony Entertainment Television-Asia, in a Touchdown Media press release.

Food major Kawan Food returned as the Powered by sponsor, and leading brand Britannia joined this year as the presenting sponsor for this event.

 “We are extremely happy with Shourav’s win at the Bee, as it goes to show that today’s South Asian kids are all-rounders and highly dedicated to their craft,” said Timothy Tan, managing director, Kawan Food, in a Touchdown Media press release.

The special guest at the finals was Gokul Venkatachalam, the 2014 MetLife South Asian Spelling Bee national champion and 2014 Scripps national co-champion, who helped co-host a portion of the event.

The event was open to children up to 14 years of age and was held in 12 regional centers across the United States. These areas included New Jersey, DC Metro area, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area and the newly added Orlando.

The contest was conducted in written and oral format at the regional levels, which served as the elimination, as well as the selection process for the finalists.

After registering their child online, parents brought them to the designated center, and a 25-word written test was administered. Children had to spell 15 or more words correctly to qualify for the afternoon oral round, and, from there, the top three were awarded prize money, and the top two qualified for the finals.

Children up to 14 years of age were eligible to participate, and the contest even saw spellers as young as 6 years of age compete and make it past a few rounds.

Registration for 2016 will open in October this year. For more information and to register your child, please visit: www.SouthAsianSpellingBee.com.

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