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India’s Sandhu brings home Miss Universe crown after 21 yrs

Dec 13, (Agencies) | Publish Date: 12/13/2021 2:14:40 PM IST

India’s Harnaaz Sandhu is the new Miss Universe, 21 years after Lara Dutta won the title in 2000. Ms Sandhu represented India at the 70th Miss Universe 2021, held in Eilat, Israel. Sandhu was presented the crown by Andrea Meza, former Miss Universe 2020 from Mexico.

Before the Chandigarh-based model, only two Indians have won the title of Miss Universe – actors Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

On being asked what advice she would give to young women on how to deal with the pressures they face, a composed Ms Sandhu said, “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 yourselves because you are the leader of your life, you are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that’s why I am standing here today,” Sandhu said.

Sandhu, who started her journey in pageantry at the age of 17, has previously been crowned Miss Diva 2021, Femina Miss India Punjab 2019 and was even placed in the Top 12 at Femina Miss India 2019.

‘It’s a proud moment for all of us’

Miss Universe 2021, Harnaaz Sandhu, who has bagged the crown for India after 21 years, will be treated to ‘makki ki roti’ and ‘sarson da saag’ by her parents when she comes back to her hometown, Chandigarh. “It’s a proud moment for all of us. I can’t express how happy I am. She has always been very active and determined,” Harnaaz’s mother, Ravinder Kaur, told the media at her residence in Mohali.

“Makki ki roti and sarson da saag is her favourite and I would love to treat her with it when she comes home. It doesn’t increase calories either,” added Kaur, a gynaecologist. Before bagging the crown, a confident Harnaaz had tweeted: “India, tonight we will shine!”

“Finally the great day has come! I feel very fortunate to represent my beloved country, have no doubt that I will do my best to get the crown for India, that is the great goal of all, and today one of us will finally be able to fulfil it. #MissUniverse #MissIndia.” According to her mother, Harnaaz, who hails from a middle-class family, has proved her mettle. “She’s very confident and focused on achieving her goals. We have supported her passion,” she said.

Excited over her win, Harnaaz’s brother, Harnoor, said: “Harnaaz remains calm and focused most of the time. She was confident from her school days that one day she will clinch this title and she got it.” Punjabi film actress Harnaaz is currently pursuing her Masters’ degree in Public Administration.

She has also worked in Punjabi films like the upcoming ‘Yaara Diyan Poo Baran’ and ‘Bai Ji Kuttange’. After she won the pageant, the family went to a nearby Sikh shrine to pray. Harnaaz, who started modelling at a young age, had earlier won Miss Chandigarh and Miss Punjab title, among others.

Sandhu’s father has 17 brothers, and Harnaaz is the only female offspring in the extended family.

“When she (Harnaaz) was born, we distributed sweets in the hospital,” Harnaaz’s father, P.S. Sandhu, said, adding that “we all will perform ‘bhangra’ on her arrival.”

Harnaaz’s hobbies are singing, cooking, theatre and horse-riding. She has won the Miss Universe crown after Lara Dutta won it in 2000.

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