On December 13, India woke up with a smile, as 21-year-old LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu, clinched the Miss Universe 2021 title! Harnaaz beat 81 contestants from different countries, who participated at the 70th edition of Miss Universe held in Eilat, Israel, to bring home the crown to India after 21 long years (the last Miss Universe from India was Lara Dutta in 2000). The vivacious Punjabi girl was crowned by last year’s winner Andrea Meza, while Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira and Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane were adjudged the first and second runners up respectively.
Since her introductory round, Harnaaz had made a mighty impact with her ‘Miss Indiaaaa’ roar, which went viral on social media. It was the belief in herself that fetched her the crown.
Harnaaz’s crown-clinching answer
Q. What advice would you give to young women watching on how to deal with the pressures they face today?
Harnaaz: The biggest pressure the youth face today is to believe in themselves. 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 are happening worldwide. I think this is what you need to understand. Come out, speak for yourself because you are the leader of your life. You are the voice of your own. I believed in myself and that’s why I’m standing here today.” Not only did she receive a thunderous applause for the answer, the crowd cheered her on for speaking her heart out.
‘Time to save the universe; let’s do this together’: Harnaaz’s message for the universe
Harnaaz Sandhu’s journey to the crown began on December 12 in Israel. The 81 divas participated in various elimination rounds. Sixteen of them were shortlisted on the day of the finale.
Confidence and grace personified
The preliminary competition was divided into two sub rounds- Swimwear and Evening gowns. The divas set the ramp on fire in both rounds. Harnaaz wore a maroon monokini, with an animal print cape for the swimwear round. For the evening gown segment, she dazzled in a gold and shimmery trail gown with a front slit, designed by Pankaj & Nidhi. It was her confidence, grace, and a million-dollar smile that caught the attention of the judges.
Royal and symbolic
Harnaaz wore an all-pink lehenga, designed by Abhinav Mishra, along with a traditional Indian umbrella which was embellished with mirror work for the National Costumes round. The royal costume was a visual representation of women in India. The mirror work and the umbrella elements in the costume were symbolic of the protective instinct of a woman. Harnaaz dedicated her performance at the National costume rounds to all the strong women out there who race battles every day with a smile.
‘Prevent and protect is better than repent and repair’
Making her way to the top five, Harnaaz donned a silver embellished gown, designed by Saisha Shinde. The pressure and the stakes were high and for the Q&A round, Harnaaz received a question from actress and TV presenter Reena Sofer asking what she would like to say to people who consider climate change a hoax. Without missing a beat, Harnaaz replied, “Honestly, my heart breaks to see how nature is going through so many problems and it’s all due to our irresponsible behaviour. I totally feel that this is the time to take action and talk less. Because each action could either kill or save nature. Prevent and protect is better than repent and repair. And this is what I’m trying to convince you guys today.” This answer catapulted her to the top-three.
Namaste, Universe! Thank you to each one of you for supporting me. Always believing in me and making me feel worth it. Now, this is the time to save the universe; let’s do this together.
– Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu, Miss Universe 2021