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Fakir Hassen in Durban
The prestigious Miss India Worldwide Contest is to be hosted in the South African city of Durban in October next year.
The announcement was made by the reigning Miss India Worldwide, Ritu Upadhyay of New York, soon after local journalism student Sorisha Naidoo was crowned Miss India South Africa in the premier city of Natal province at the weekend.
Upadhyay, herself a journalist with Time, said this followed lengthy negotiations between the founder of the event, Dharmatma Saran of the United States, and the chairman of the South African version of the pageant, Farook Khan.
Upadhyay said she would be very happy to be back next year as co-presenter of the event with a former South African winner, Krijay Govender, who is now a radio announcer.
Miss India Worldwide 2002 will be held at the International Convention Centre in Durban and contestants from more than 30 countries in the Indian diaspora are expected to converge on the city.
"It will be a major boost for tourism and create jobs for at least 2,000 people," Khan said. "We have already started placing orders with weavers in rural areas for special cloth decorations for the event," he added.
"We are planning to have a parade through the city after all the contestants from across the world arrive, and there are also plans to have an Indian bazaar on the streets surrounding the convention centre," Khan said.
"The actual pageant will take place on two evenings, with the winner being announced at a gala event on November 2."
"I'm still floating and can't believe that I won," Naidoo told the Indo-Asian News Service after the event. "It's going to take a couple of days to really hit home, as Ritu told me."
Naidoo entered the contest after being asked to do so by one of the sponsors, a local medical company. It was the first time the Rhodes University graduate had entered a beauty contest.
The runners-up in the contest, in which young women from across South Africa participated, were Kamisha Nanhoo and Lameez Cassan.
Naidoo said she had spent two years in Bangalore in India studying medicine, but turned to journalism after she had difficulty coping with the practical side of the medical profession. "I hated working with cadavers and the like," she admitted. Her parents Lallita and Krish Naidoo own several businesses in Durban.
Naidoo said she was not disappointed that she would not be going abroad for the worldwide contest next year. "In fact, I feel thrilled that I will be able to play hostess in my own country to representatives from 30 other countries," she remarked.
Indo-Asian News Service
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