The remote, tranquil beaches of Ujung Genteng, West Java, offer a variety of memorable holiday activities. (JG Photos/Sylviana Hamdani)

Search Is On to Crown 2015’s Miss India Indonesia

JANUARY 29, 2015

Jakarta will be star-struck on Friday night. Young and beautiful new talent will be discovered as a lineup of Indian-Indonesian women give their best in performances for the Grand Finale of Miss India Indonesia 2015 at the JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta.

Miss India Indonesia is a cultural beauty pageant, under the Indian Festival Committee (IFC), for young women of Indian descent between 17 and 27 years of age who currently live in Indonesia.

“It’s not just another beauty contest,” said Shanti Tolani, country manager of Miss India Indonesia. 

“It’s more like a cultural pageant in which the contestants have to be able to present the best of the two cultures.”

The winner of the pageant will represent Indonesia at the Miss India Worldwide pageant held in India in June this year.

“Miss India Indonesia 2015 is also very special, as the Embassy of India has established the pageant as part of the ‘Festival of India’ this year,” said Kavita Tolani, national director of Miss India Indonesia.

Festival of India, which runs until May, features a series of educational and social events aimed at strengthening the bond between the two countries. 

“I hope India and Indonesia will always be as close in every way as we are today,” Shanti said.

The pageant will surely bring the two countries closer together, as all the participants are encouraged to show their skills and knowledge of both countries throughout the contest.

The Miss India Indonesia pageant first launched in 2013. At the inaugural event, about 45 women entered the pageant, with 28 chosen as finalists, before 17-year-old Shreenjit Kaur was crowned as the winner.

The Miss India Indonesia pageant was put on hold in 2014, as both countries held  national elections.

“According to the rules of the IFC, the title [Miss India Indonesia 2014] was passed on to the first runner-up [of Miss India Indonesia 2013],” Shanti said.

Mansi Sharma, the first runner-up in 2013, represented the country in the Miss India Worldwide in Dubai last year.

In 2015, 55 women participated in the pageant.

“They come from many different backgrounds from all over Indonesia,” said the country manager.

These participants were shortlisted to 20 finalists after a talent showcase held in December.

These finalists have groomed and trained to present the best of their personalities and talents at the Grand Finale.

“So many of our contestants have never been on the ramp before, walked in front of so many people or spoken in front of the public,” Shanti said.

Indonesian fashion choreographer, Wawan Soeharto, directing the grand finale show, has worked closely with the finalists.

“I’ve introduced the basics of modelling to them, such as how to walk on the runway, pose and exude a strong, confident aura on the catwalk,” Wawan said.

Wawan, who has choreographed all Miss India Indonesia pageants so far, is clearly impressed with the quality of the finalists this year.

“They are all very talented,” he said. “One of them is a sinetron [TV soap opera] actress with great acting talents. Another finalist can do batik using henna [traditional Indian dye]. One is a successful dentist and another is an athlete. There is one girl [from among the finalist] that can perform various Javanese and Balinese dances beautifully.”

These finalists will showcase most of their talents at Friday’s event.

“It’s going to be a very exciting evening,” Wawan said.

The finalists have undergone a series of public speaking, character building and personality development sessions with the Star Harvest Academy. The finalists have also received special hair treatments with Toni & Guy Hairdressing.

“We’ve diagnosed their hair conditions and treated them accordingly,” said Joti Shahdadpuri, director of Toni & Guy Hairdressing. 

The grand finale will start with a gala dinner in the JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta Friday night. About 600 guests, including foreign dignitaries and friends and families of the contestants, will attend the event.

The finale features two fashion shows, in which the finalists showcase a series of Indian traditional costumes, as well as evening gowns by Indonesian top designer, Hengki Kawilarang.

“Hengki Kawilarang’s evening gowns will be made of Indonesian traditional textiles, such as batiks and tenun [handwoven fabrics],” Shanti said.

After seeing the fashion shows, the judges will select the top 10 from among the finalists.

The judging panel features Neeru Singh, the wife of the Indian ambassador to Indonesia, Joti of Toni & Guy Hairdressing, Lingga Suwahjo from the Star Harvest Academy, Indonesian fashion designer, Poppy Dharsono and BeritaSatu Media Holdings chief executive Sachin Gopalan.

The top 10 will be asked a number of questions on a variety of topics, set by their co-contestants. The judges then whittle the finalists down to the final three.

The judges will then give one question to each of the top five finalists. And based on their answers, the judges will name the top three winners, before selecting an overall winner.

The winner is expected to undergo further training before representing Indonesia in the upcoming Miss India Worldwide 2015 this June in India.

“We have a great chance [to win in the Miss India Worldwide 2015],” Shanti said. “Girls from Indonesia are very, very creative and smart.”

In the upcoming Miss India Worldwide 2015, Miss India Indonesia will face winners from 44 other countries.

“That’s the challenging part,” the pageant’s country manager said. 

“Among so many beautiful girls, who are all smart and confident, [Miss India Indonesia] still must have the poise and courage to go through the competition. 

“But we’ll have a lot of chances [in the international pageant], as long as we can mould the girl and prepare her,” Shanti said, with confidence.

Miss India Indonesia 2015 is not all about winning — it’s also about sharing and inspiring others. 

“She’ll work closely with Yayasan Pulih Indonesia to open the eyes young girls in Indonesia to the importance of education,” Shanti said.

Yayasan Pulih Indonesia is a non-profit foundation, which aims to prevent crime and violence, and to help victims.

“With Miss India Indonesia 2015, we’ll visit schools of the less fortunate ones and talk to the female students,” said Irma Martam, member of the board of directors of Yayasan Pulih Indonesia. 

“We hope to inspire them. They can be like [the winner] if they study hard.

“We believe that education is the key for women to get a life free from discrimination and abuses.”

“I believe it’s one of the most important essences of the pageant,” Irma said. 

“The pageant is not only about the glitz or glamour, but more importantly, [about] how the winner can inspire other women to be the best they can be.”

Grand finale: Friday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m.,  JW Marriott Hotel Jakarta.

For more information visit missindia-indonesia.com.

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