Actor-model Harnaaz Sandhu created history on December 13 as she was crowned Miss Universe 2021 after defeating contestants from 80 countries- 21 years after India last won the title.
Before Ms. Sandhu, only two Indians have won the Miss Universe title – actor Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000. The 70th edition of the event was held in Eilat, Israel, where the 21-year-old won the prestigious competition.
The Chandigarh-based model, who is pursuing her master’s degree in public administration, was crowned by her predecessor Andrea Meza of Mexico, who won the competition in 2020.
Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira, 22, came second, while South Africa’s 24-year-old Lalela Maswane came third.
“I am very grateful to the almighty, my parents and Miss India organization for guiding and supporting me.
Lots of love to everyone who prayed and wished the Taj for me,” Ms. Sandhu said.
It is the biggest proud moment to bring back the glorious crown to India after 21 years,” he said.
During the final question and answer round, Ms. Sandhu was asked what advice she would give to young women on how to deal with the pressure they face today.
“The biggest pressure the youth of today is facing is to believe in themselves, to know that you are unique and that’s what makes you beautiful. Stop comparing yourselves with others and let’s talk about more important things that’s happening worldwide.
“This is what you need to understand. Come out, speak for yourself because you are the leader of your life, you are your own voice. I believed in myself and that’s why I stand here today,” she told one thunderous applause.
Ms. Sandhu began her journey in the competition when she won the Times Fresh Face in 2017, representing Chandigarh at the age of 17. She later won the title of LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2021.
Ms. Sandhu has also acted in a few Punjabi films, including “Yaara Diya Poo Baran” and “Bai Ji Kuttange”.
The ceremony was hosted by Steve Harvey and saw the performance of American singer JoJo.