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There was a time when I religiously posted updates about Miss Nepal on the blog and continued sharing their progress and sightings of various Miss Nepal’s during their reign. Surprisingly, my interest in the beauty pageant seems to have vanished. That was until the crowning of twenty-year old Nikita Chandak as Miss Nepal World 2017 on the 2nd of June. Having little knowledge about this years pageant apart from the fact that the ever-so-popular Niti Shah was participating, I was not prepared for the flood of updates, opinions and criticisms towards this years winners. Then again, that is the story of Miss Nepal every year, right? I came to learn that the twenty year old comes from the small town of Urlabari, a small roadside town which I’ve visited multiple times and driven past more than I can remember. At this stage, I was pretty pleased to learn that someone from such a small town became the Miss Nepal.

Social media is truly an amazing platform. It really lets us see the true colours of people that use it. Reading and seeing peoples updates to observing very popular Nepali pages with several hundred thousand followers online share memes and troll updates about Nikita Chandak because of the way she looks, her skin-tone to the extent of questioning her identity was truly distressing to see. But that was not surprising at all. We pass so many discriminatory comments on the daily, over dinner, at celebration function; it’s everywhere to the point that we’ve normalised it.

I am even more drawn to the story of Nikita Chandak because she not only is our Miss Nepal now but she is a Miss Nepal from a Marwari community, for many people who question the “Nepali look” I hope they learn that the modern-day Nepali look is dynamic and the Nepali tone can be as soft or strong as you like. It is what we feel from within that identifies who we are, not the look we wear or the tone of our voice.

Chandak who is currently a commerce student at Amity University, Noida (INDIA) was born in Urlabari and in recent interviews she has spoken about her participation at the TGIF Nepal Fashion Week and Miss Nepal 2017. Modelling or participating in a beauty pageant was never a plan or a past that she boasts experiences of, she feels that she has already used this vacation time in a productive manner. After all, not many can say they walked the ramp of Nepal’s biggest fashion week and brought home the Miss Nepal crown. She aspires to be an actress in the future and most importantly, become financially independent.

The Miss Nepal 2017 returned to her hometown in Urlabari where she received a triumphant welcome! Love the photos! Looks so vibrant.

PHOTOS: KISHOR SHRESTHA / NIKITA CHANDAK

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