Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu returns to India for Miss Diva 2022

Beauty queen will wear a dress by Indian designer Gavin Miguel for the national pageant

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Harnaaz Sandhu is back in Mumbai ahead of India's Miss Universe pageant on Sunday.

The Miss Universe 2021 titleholder has been posting social media updates on the ground, as she prepares to pass on her Miss Diva crown to her successor.

Miss Diva, or Miss Diva Universe, is India's national pageant and its winner will go on to represent the country at the 71st Miss Universe, the dates and location for which are yet to be announced.

Sandhu won India its first crown at the global pageant in 21 years, and its third overall. She has been travelling the world since winning, and on her return to her home country this weekend, she took part in a photoshoot which has had adoring fans gushing on social media.

"Shooting something special with @missdivaorg," Sandhu wrote on the official Miss Universe account, where she has been sharing her travels over the past year.

The beauty queen, from Chandigarh, wore a plunging black sequinned gown with a thigh-high slit by fashion brand Aleta, from the US and Sweden, and creates looks hand-wrought in India.

"Wow! Our queen is so beautiful," wrote one fan in the comments. "Hamari sherni," said another, which means "our lioness" in Hindi.

The Miss Diva Instagram account has also shared a sneak peek at the gown Sandhu plans to wear for the crowning ceremony, which will be streaming free online on the Indian network Voot from September 12.

The dress, by Indian designer Gavin Miguel, is a beaded creation with what appears to be a flowing cape, although only close-up details were revealed in the clip.

Organisers said in the caption that as Sandhu "will be taking her final walk" as the national titleholder, the dress serves as "an ode to her beautiful reign".

Sandhu, 22, is a model and actress, having starred in Punjabi films Yaara Diyan Poo Baran and Bai Ji Kuttange, with dreams to one day act alongside Shah Rukh Khan.

"I share a lot of respect and love for Shah Rukh Khan. The amount of hard work he has done and is still doing, it's never enough I think. But he has always stayed grounded, he has always managed the success," she told The Times of India.

"And the way he has been talking in every interview, that really inspired me, that it's just about your attitude that takes you places. He is a wonderful artist and a wonderful human being."

Miss Diva, established in 2013, is a part of the Femina Miss India pageant that selects India's representatives for Miss Universe, one of the Big Four international beauty pageants.

The winner of Miss Universe 2022 is unlikely to be crowned until December or early next year — however, contestants are already lining up to compete.

More than 35 countries far and wide, from the UK to Ukraine and Guatemala to Ghana, have named their representatives, with plenty more to be unveiled over the coming months.

In the region, Miss Universe Bahrain will be named soon.

Miss Universe 2022 beauty queens crowned so far, from Iraq to Thailand — in pictures

Updated: August 28, 2022, 7:48 AM