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L-r: Candy Chan, senior marketing consultant, Multicultural Marketing, MassMutual; Nimesh Trivedi, director, Multicultural Marketing, MassMutual; Siyona Mishra, MassMutual South Asian Spelling Bee National Champion; Wonhong Lee, assistant vice president, Diverse Markets, MassMutual; and Rahul Walia, founder of The MassMutual South Asian Spelling Bee. (photo provided)

NEW BRUNSWICK — Siyona Mishra of Orlando, Fla., correctly spelled the word “zubrowka” (a dry straw-colored chiefly Russian liqueur of vodka flavored with herbs) during the recent 2016 MassMutual South Asian Spelling Bee finals to clinch the title of national champion and take home a cash prize of $10,000 from MassMutual.

Ananya Kodali from Highland Village, Texas, and Shruthika Padhy from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, were tied for national runners-up at the event Aug.5, which was taped live for broadcast on Sony Entertainment Television.

The initiative was organized by a leading multicultural advertising firm, Touchdown Media Inc., and sponsored by MassMutual, a leading mutual life insurance company.

Sony Entertainment Television, the exclusive rights holder, broadcast the initiative across the globe in over 120 countries. Britannia was the presenting sponsor while Kawan Foods returned as the powered by sponsor for the initiative, which is now in its ninth year.

The special guest at the finals was last year’s national champion, Shourav Dasari, who helped co-host a portion of the Bee.

The competition 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, the D.C. Metro area, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Charlotte, and the newly-added international center in Ghana.

The contest was conducted in a written and oral format at the regional levels which served as the elimination as well as 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 saw spellers of even 6 years of age compete and make it past a few rounds.

Registration for 2017 will open in October this year. Those who wish for more information and who wish to register their child should visit the website.

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