Meet NU’s Miss India Worldwide

Alexandra Finkel

Valentine’s Day couldn’t have been sweeter for Communication freshman Nikkitasha Marwaha. On Feb. 14, she was crowned Miss India Worldwide at a competition in Durban, South Africa, featuring 24 girls of Indian heritage from around the world.

For Marwaha, who has been competing in pageants since ninth grade, the scene was nothing new.

“I wouldn’t call myself a typical pageant girl,” she said. “People have this belief that pageants are only about beauty, but this one is about beauty, talent and intelligence. A girl must be well-rounded.”

In Sept. 2007, Marwaha casually signed up for the Miss India D.C. pageant with one of her friends. But her unexpected win led her to New Jersey for Miss India USA last November, and a victory there led her to South Africa.

In the middle of midterms, Marwaha left Northwestern and traveled to Durban for a week of workshops, speakers and volunteer work culminating in the Miss India Worldwide pageant.

“Some of my teachers were not as lenient, but this was an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime,” she said.

The competition consisted of four segments: evening gown, Indian dress, talent and question-and-answer.

“It is very similar to American pageants except that instead of swimsuit, we wear traditional Indian attire,” she said. “It’s not that wearing a swimsuit is inappropriate for Indian culture, but this pageant isn’t just about showing skin. You don’t need to wear a swimsuit to be beautiful.”

For the talent portion, Marwaha performed an original dance which was “a fusion of Indian classical and modern dance.” She began her performance by balancing a pot on her head and ended it by stepping onto a plate on the floor.

Marwaha’s friend Irene Park said she isn’t surprised she took the title.

“I think you either got it or you don’t and she’s got it,” the Weinberg freshman said. “I hate the word dreams because so many people have them and don’t do anything. But when a fellow student goes out there and makes something of herself, it’s really inspirational.”

Although Marwaha said she felt confident throughout the competition, she said she was unprepared for her interview question.

“I was asked where I would take someone in my country, and I said my hometown of Washington, D.C., because it’s the epitome of unity in America,” she said. “But I wish I had been asked a more serious question like in New Jersey when I was asked to define success.”

When it came time to announce the winner from the five remaining finalists, Marwaha said she wasn’t nervous.

“After they announced the first and second runner up, I felt better because they were my main competition,” she said. “And when I was called up, I’m not saying I didn’t expect it, but I had been praying and praying that the other two names would not be called.”

Marwaha said she hopes her victory will give her the platform to work in entertainment.

“In the past, the girls who have won have gained many important connections,” she said. “My dream is to be in the entertainment industry, whether it be Bollywood or Hollywood.”

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