American Indian Vaidehi Dongre from Michigan was crowned Miss India USA 2021 over this weekend and talking about what she wishes to do with her victory, the 25-year-old University of Michigan graduate who currently works as a business development manager shared, “I want to leave a positive lasting impact on my community and focus on women’s financial independence and literacy.” Arshi Lalani from Georgia was declared the first runner up and North Carolina’s Mira Kasari was declared the second runner up.
Vaidehi, who has majored in international studies, won the ‘Miss Talented’ title when she gave a flawless performance of Indian classical dance form Kathak. Sharing her thoughts just before the victory, Vaidehi wrote in the caption of a post on Instagram, “Less than 48 hours before I leave to go compete at the Miss India USA National pageant in NJ and I could not be more excited!! This past year has been one of the toughest of my life as I am sure it has been for many others. On a personal level, I moved back home in February of 2020 due to the pandemic and stayed to support my family through a difficult time. After a full year of deep reflection and work on myself, the Miss India Michigan pageant made me realize how much growth can come from leaning into challenges. Participating in and winning the Miss India Michigan pageant brought me a level of internal clarity and confidence that I didn’t think was possible.”
Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997, was the chief guest and chief judge for the pageant. In another Instagram post, Vaidehi shared how she was honoured to represent the state of Michigan. She wrote, “The Miss India USA pageants have always provided a platform to empower and encourage women of Indian origin. As a little girl having been born in India and raised in the US, I have always straddled the line between Indian & American culture and values & discovered all the amazing gifts that both have to offer.
She continued, “I believe that the Miss India USA platform will give me the confidence & resources to further my goals, and leave a positive lasting impact on my community.” Vaidehi concluded by saying that she was dedicating her efforts to her mother, and it seems like they have been very fruitful.
As many as 61 contestants from 30 states participated in three different pageants – Miss India USA, Mrs India USA and Miss Teen India USA. Winners of all three categories get complimentary tickets to travel to Mumbai to take part in worldwide pageants.
Miss India USA was started by New York-based eminent Indian-Americans Dharmatma and Neelam Saran under the banner of Worldwide Pageants around 40 years ago as is the longest-running Indian pageant outside India.