India's Sargam Koushal has become only the second Indian woman to win the coveted Mrs World title after beating 63 other contestants on Saturday night.
“The long wait is over, it’s after 21 years we have the crown back,” the beauty queen from Jammu and Kashmir posted soon after her crowning at a glamorous event in Las Vegas.
Indian actress and model Aditi Govitrikar first won the competition in 2001. The global pageant, which “celebrates the uniqueness of married women”, has been held since 1984.
Govitrikar, who served as a judge for the Mrs India contest, also congratulated Koushal on her win.
“So happy the crown is finally back and that I was part of the journey,” Govitrikar posted on Instagram.
Who is Sargam Koushal?
A former teacher, Koushal, 32, is originally from Jammu and Kashmir but lives in Mumbai with her husband Aditya Manohar Sharma, an Indian naval officer. The couple started dating in 2015 before marrying in 2018, and it was only after marriage that Koushal discovered modelling.
She participated in the Mrs India contest in June where she beat 50 other hopefuls to the title, earning her a spot at the Mrs World 2022 pageant.
Following her Mrs India win, Koushal thanked her husband, crediting him as “the man who made this moment possible”.
“You’ve not only given me wings, but been the wind under them. You’ve transformed this small town girl and turned her into a star. You give me the confidence to achieve all that is out there. You’ve always encouraged me to put my dreams first and like a wallflower, you just watch — watch me shine,” she posted on Instagram.
“I’ve never had to worry about having kids, just because time is running out since you understand that I have a vision which needs time and focus. You support me and make me a better human being, and for that I’m grateful. No one else could have done it better than you. This crown may be mine, but you’re my king.”
Koushal also said one of her main motivations was her father.
“The core motive, the cause of it all, is this man — my father. Since I was a little girl, he always told me, 'You're different, I see it in your eyes. You're meant for greater things in life. Things that people wish to achieve, but don't have the courage to. You have that courage in your heart and the fire in your belly even as a little girl',” she wrote.
A call for peace at Mrs World
At the Mrs World pageant in Las Vegas, Koushal made sure she represented the beauty of her country as well as that of her birthplace Jammu and Kashmir. Wearing a traditional Kashmiri dress by the label Wazir C, Koushal's look was completed by a striking white veil with the words “Let Peace Prevail” embroidered at the back, a nod to her birthplace's turbulent history and current political climate.
For her national costume, which won the award for the most exotic costume, Koushal wore a dazzling outfit inspired by the peacock, the national bird of India, by Indonesian artist and designer Eggie Jasmin.
“Peacock symbolises the beauty and exuberance of the country. Peacock is also a combination of royalty, strength and elegance that every Indian woman possesses,” reads Koushal's description of the dress.
And for the final evening gown round, in which she would go on to clinch the Mrs World 2022 crown, Koushal chose an embellished pink slit dress, designed by Bhawna Rao.
“I'm so excited. Love you India, love you the world,” said the beauty queen, after receiving the crown.