Poonam Nair of Calgary - crowned Miss Indo-Fiji 2005

Press release by Indofiji.com, 31 May 2005

San Francisco, CA -- May 30, 2005 - Poonam Nair of Calgary, Alberta, Canada was crowned the inaugural Miss Indo-Fiji Queen on Sunday May 22, 2005 at 10:30 pm at the glamorous Scottish Rite Temple's Main Auditorium in Oakland by the Grand Sponsor, Mr. Hemant Prasad, President of Sierra Pacific Mortgage Corporation. She wins a round trip to Mumbai, India and will represent Fiji at the Miss India Worldwide Beauty Pageant to be held in November this year. The 1st Runner up is Kajaal Bhatti from South San Francisco, California and she wins a trip to London while the 2nd Runner up, Ms Poonam Lata from Castro Valley, California wins a trip to Hawaii.

The concept behind the Miss Indo-Fiji Beauty Pageant was the inspirational work of Ranjit Raju, President of www.IndoFiji.com, the world's first and largest website connecting Fiji Indians worldwide on the internet. Ranjit Raju has been involved in the entertainment industry in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 10 years and has been very active in the local Fijian community. May 14th is a very significant date in our history because on 14 May 1879, the "Leonidas", the ship with the first indentured laborers from India, arrived in Fiji. Ranjit's main goal was to recognize this date, promote the Indo-Fijian culture and develop and enhance the awareness of Indo-Fijian arts, customs, performing arts, philosophies and history through the Miss Indo-Fiji Beauty Pageant. On May 22 2005, we celebrated 126 years of the arrival of these first 'girmitiyas' to the shores of the islands of Fiji.

As a result of Ranjit's experience and involvement in the Indo-Fijian community, he was appointed the National Director (Fiji) for the Miss India Worldwide Pageant by Mr. Dharmatma Saran, President of the India Festival Committee, New York. The Miss India Worldwide Pageant is produced by the IFC and is known as "the glamorous Indian function in the world". The winner of the Miss Indo-Fiji Pageant will get tremendous media exposure and an opportunity of a lifetime to represent Fiji in the globally established Miss India Worldwide Pageant. Contestants from over 25 countries participate in this event. It is an amazing experience for each of the participants.

An operations team was formed, consisting of volunteer members from IndoFiji.com and the following goals were established: The Miss Indo-Fiji Beauty Pageant and Awards Night is intended to provide entertainment and enlightenment about Indo-Fijian arts and culture to the audience; benefits and opportunities for the contestants; an awards ceremony to recognize prominent members in the community and an annual event for the participation of the Indo-Fijian Community in North America. A website was put together and is continually updated - www.MissIndoFiji.com.

The contestants in the pageant are of Indo-Fijian origin, between the ages of 17 and 27, never married, and are citizens, residents, or born in Fiji or at least have 1 parent of Indo-Fijian decent. The pageant consists of five segments - Indian Sari, Island Wear, Modern Indian, Talent and a Question & Answer session. They are required to introduce themselves on stage, pre-record a video interview and answer a question before advancing to the final round of the top 5 contestants who will then progress to the Talent and Final Q&A round.

The first audition was held on April 3, 2005 at the San Bruno Hindu Temple Hall, in San Bruno, California. The second audition was on April 10, 2005 at Sonam Fiji Restaurant and several more auditions followed. The pageant was overwhelmed with contestants willing to participate from as far as Calgary, Kansas and Auckland, New Zealand.

The trainings started on Sunday May 15 in Hayward, California. The contestants had a week of intense grooming and training by an internationally renowned choreographer. Talent is a major part of the Miss Indo-Fiji Beauty Pageant. Due to time constraints, during the main Sunday show, a Pre-Lim Round Dinner and Dance Function was organized for all the Contestants to showcase their talent. This was held at the Good Nite Inn, in South San Francisco. The judges for the night were Rani Rehnuma, Roneel Prakash, Satish Sharma, Nimi Naidu and Shree Francis. The contestants were judged on Best Smile, Best Eyes, Best Talent, Best Hair, Best Skin, Best Catwalk, and Miss Photogenic.

The final excitement culminated on Sunday May 22. Audience started cueing up for the doors to open at 5pm. The curtains opened at 6:30pm with Mohammed Sheraaz on the Grand Piano. The hosts of the night were Mr. Vaneeth Nand and Ms Priscilla Solanki. This was a night to be remembered, 13 beautiful contestants, their introductions, video interviews, the Question and Answer Session. The Top 5 contestants performed their talent and then answered questions from the Judges. The audience was dazzled with the venue, the lights, the sounds, the video presentations and the world class quality production. The crowning atmosphere was tense as the selection process was extremely demanding but the judges did a superb job given the highly talented contestants.

Judges for the Main Event were Mr Arvinda Mani, Shimone Kanhai, Saras Narayan, Marianne Dorbison, Yashoda Nand, and Anjali Neilson from The Anjali Show.

As part of the program a special moment was dedicated to recognize outstanding personalities from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond for their community service and dedication. The objective was to highlight their achievements to serve as role models and inspirations for our younger generation.

During the breaks, some of the best performers from the Bay Area kept the audience on their feet. Gop Naidu, Rukmani, Kajal, Asha Ram, Priti, Vijendra and Mr Steve Singh entertained the crowd with their sizzling selection of Songs. Ms Jaiwanti Pamnani performed Kathak along with Bollywood dance groups Jhoom, Dheen Tara, and Hum Ek. The final dance performance was by "Capoeira" which is a Brazilian martial arts form which combines fight, dance, music, rhythm and movement. The live drum rolls got everyone tapping on their feet for the final announcement of the winners.

Complete list of winners: Miss Indo-Fiji 2005 - Poonam Nair, 1st Runner Up - Kajaal Bhatti, 2nd Runner Up - Poonam Lata, Finalists: Poonam Lata, Sweta Singh, Reema Prasad, Kajaal Bhatti, Poonam Nair. Winners of the Pre-lim rounds were: Miss Congeniality - Kavita Narayan, Miss Photogenic - Devki Patel, Best Smile - Faziya Khalik, Best Eyes - Poonam Nair, Best Talent - Anishalin, Best Hair - Serena Chand, Best Skin - Jasmine Prasad, and Best Catwalk - Poonam Lata.

This event would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors. The Grand Sponsor for the event was Mr. Hemant Prasad, President of Sierra Pacific Mortgage Corporation. There were 12 gold sponsors, 6 Silver Sponsors and 10 General Sponsors. The local Bay Area Radio Stations, newspapers, and websites all supported our event. For a complete list of sponsors and media support, please visit the website - www.MissIndoFiji.com.

Miss Indo-Fiji Team consisted of Ranjit Raju, Vaneeth Nand, Shonal Nand, Ashika Reddy, Navin Sharma, Kanchan Padayachi, Priscilla Solanki, Latika Solanki, Rajeev Reddy, Ranjina Reddy, Arvind Reddy, Neil Chandra, Roneel Maharaj, Roneel Prakash, Rashida Mohammed, Arun Sahay, Anand Muni, Anandika Muni, Raj Prasad, Keshmi Mishra and Shaneel Maharaj. The Indo-Fijian organization will continue to be active in fashion and pageantry business. In addition, the organization is planning to be involved in modeling workshops, fashion shows, beauty pageants, photo shoots, and music videos in the near future. Previously, they had conceived and produced a short serial titled, "Sanjana" which was highly acclaimed by the viewers. The producers are projecting a full feature sequel to be released later this year. Look out for the Miss Indo-Fiji DVD to be released during the Fiji Festival 2005 in Hayward, CA.

What makes Miss Indo-Fiji Pageant different from other such organizations is they are committed to support various charity bodies particularly those focused on children and education.

The Miss Indo-Fijian event is here to stay. Aspirant contestants and sponsors can contact their head office via email - info@indofiji.com or phone (650) 465-3241.

For information visit: http://www.MissIndoFiji.com