19 year old brings Miss India Worldwide crown to Oman

Miss India Worldwide title winner Stephanie Lohale (centre), along with the runners-up (Supplied photo)

At the age of 19, Muscat-born Stephanie Lohale has successfully realised her long-harboured dream of making it big on the runway.

Two weeks ago, when she represented Oman at the international Miss India Worldwide pageant, Stephanie says she wasn’t half expecting a win. But she did, and not only did Stephanie bring the title home, she also made history, becoming the first contestant from the GCC to win the international pageant ever since its inception in 1990.

“I stood there among the top five, as the crowd cheered on for Oman. When the announcement was made, it felt as though my world elevated and everything around me raced towards the stage. I couldn’t move a muscle! This feeling and experience is something I will keep close to my heart forever,” she recalled of the pageant, which was held at the Lalit Hotel in Mumbai on September 8.

Stephanie, who spent her early years in Muscat before moving to Dubai, beat 32 contestants from across the globe to clinch the title. She received the crown from last year’s winner Miss India US Monica Gill. India’s Apeksha Porwal was the first runner-up, while Miss India South Africa Shivani Govender came second.

Over the last two years, contestants representing Oman at the international beauty contest have been consistently doing the region proud. In 2014, Miss India Oman Niharika Pathak made it to the top ten, along with two other contestants from the UAE. This year, Stephanie, who had earlier been selected from among 15 candidates vying to represent GCC countries for the pageant, took everyone by surprise when she finally won the crown for the sultanate. “It feels amazing,” said Stephanie of her win. “I always felt that with the right amount of belief and hard work, the title of Miss India Worldwide was going to be Oman’s. I guess, I believed I would win and put in all that effort to bring the title home.”

For the pageant, Stephanie underwent a week-long training in Mumbai. “Our coaching focused on walking, dancing, speaking with confidence, elegance and poise. We were trained by pageant experts, Alesia Raut (India's top model and fashion choreographer), Ritika Ramtri (pageant coach) and dance choreographer Sandeep Soparkar. We also had a fashion and film workshop by Raj Suri (photographer and film producer), as well as an insight into our future by Sundeep Kochar (astrologer), to keep us all motivated.

“It all definitely got strenuous, but nothing comes easy, and we were all so fortunate to have been part of such a great training faculty. They were lessons and memories worth keeping,” she said, adding that on a personal level, she had been doing a lot of meditation and reading to stay focused.

However, the most challenging part about the pageant, said Stephanie, was the talent round. “I painted in just about two and a half minutes successfully! Painting is something I indulge in personally, and to be able to show this talent to Mumbai was an experience that overwhelmed me the most. It truly took my breath away, and I haven’t felt prouder to have accomplished this for myself,” she said.

Speaking about her future plans, Stephanie, who is a student of design studies at the Heriot Watt University in Dubai, said that as of now, she is taking each day as it comes.

“Currently, everything around me has been taking me by surprise and I’m loving it immensely. Let us see where destiny takes me,” she said.

“Winning this pageant though means having a platform that will help me make that small difference in the world. I want to focus on charity and do the things that count. Hopefully, these aims will be achieved with the crown this year.”

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