Twenty-five-year-old Vaidehi Dongre, from Michigan, has been crowned Miss India USA for the year 2021, while Arshi Lalani from Georgia was declared the first runner up. Mira Kasari, from North Carolina, was the second runner up in the beauty pageant held over the weekend. In an Instagram post shared after her big win, Ms Dongre said she “strived to be a role model for young girls” while celebrating her rich South Asian heritage.
Vaidehi Dongre is a graduate from the University of Michigan and currently works as a business development manager. Born in India and raised in the US, she said she was “honoured and humbled” to represent Indian immigrants living in the US as the new Miss India USA.
“This journey has been a whirlwind but at the root of it I have always strived to be a role model for young girls, celebrate my rich South Asian heritage and leave a lasting positive impact on my community,” she wrote on Instagram, sharing a few snippets from the crowning ceremony and after.
In her post, Ms Dongre thanked pageant producers IFC and Dharmatma and Neelam Saran, founders of the beauty pageant, for providing young women of South Asian origin with a platform to make an impact. She also shared a note of thanks for her directors, her teachers, the other participants of the pageant and finally, her parents.
“Aai and Baba- the values you inculcated in me and Vineet at such a young age have given me strength in times of hardship and light in times of darkness,” wrote Vaidehi Dongre.
She credited her parents for helping her stay in touch with her roots and wrote: “Making sure that I learned the roots of where I come from: Marathi, Hindi, reading and writing, mythology, culture, food, love, spirituality, all whilst living in the US was no easy feat, thank you.”
In an earlier Instagram post, Ms Dongre had spoken about straddling the line between Indian and American culture. “This one is for my Aai (mom),” she wrote in the post dated June 2, asking people to send her good wishes for the pageant.
Ms Dongre is now prepping to take part in the Miss India Worldwide pageant. The winner of Miss India USA is the only delegate from USA at the Miss India Worldwide Pageant, which is also organised by the IFC.