Breaking All Beauty Pageant Stereotypes, Jane Dipika Garrett Wins Miss Universe Nepal 2023

Jane Dipika Garrett is the Miss Universe Nepal 2023.

Sophiya Bhujel, Miss Universe Nepal 2022, crowned her 22-year-old successor from Kathmandu in the grand finale event held at Godavari Sunrise Convention Centre in Latipur this evening. Garima Ghimire took away the first runners up title, with Buddhisara Sunar winning the second runners up place.

Jane broke the beauty pageant stereotypes as she won this prestigious title without having the most “toned and slim” body type in the competition — which is generally considered to be the “standard” body type in beauty pageants. “I am here to start a revolution to change mental health, body positivity and hormonal health”, she had said while introducing herself during the finale this evening.

Shitashma Pokhrel and Abhilasha Lamsal — two married finalists — were announced the third and fourth runners up, respectively.

The winner was selected by the panel of judges that comprised of Saurabh Jyoti, Surakshya Panta, Upaul Majumdar, Upasana Ghimire, Ayusha Karki Shrestha, Rabi Raj Karnikar, Sangita Pahadi and Nandini Lahe Thapa; along with the votes via Khalti from the audience.

Sanskriti Chhetri Karki, Salista Subedi, Sarosy Neupane, Chanel Shrestha and Puja Poudel were the rest of the Top 10 contestants; who were all asked one question each during the Question and Answer round, right after the Evening Gown round.

Along with the crown and the main title; thirteen sub-title awards were also announced during the event. Abhilasha Lamsal bagged the Social Impact Leader award that gave her the direct entry into the Top 10, along with Miss Elegance sub-title. Shitashma Pokhrel, on the other hand, won the most number of sub-titles with Miss Dazzling Diva, Miss ICT and Miss Lifestyle. Puja Puadel (Miss Fierce and Miss Martini Sun Angel) and Prema Lamgade (Miss Eco Infinity and Miss Free & Fearless) went home with two sub-title awards each. Miss Creative Canvas was bagged by Amisha Basnet, and Alista Subedi took away the Miss Fabulous sub-title. Palistha Bajracharya and Sarosi Neupane won the awards of Miss True Beauty and Miss Unstoppable, respectively.

The competition this year had kick-started on Jun 15th when the online registrations were opened through August 3rd. 30 quarter-finalists were selected who then competed in the prelims. Online voting was also open via Khalti to select the Top 22 semi-finalists who were then part of the close camp that started on September 3rd.

Singer-songwriter Trishala Gurung, who had recently become an internet sensation across the South Asian region after her performance in Pakistan during the opening ceremony of Asia Cup, performed at the event as the Top 10 contestants walked the stage for the Evening Gown round. Popular folk-fusion band, Kutumba, also performed at the event hosted by Sanjay Gupta and Subeksha Khadka, during the final walk of the Top 5 finalists post the final Question-Answer round.

Jane is the sixth Miss Universe Nepal. Nepal’s Miss Universe journey started in 2017 when Nagma Shrestha, the current National Director, brought the franchise to the country. She represented Nepal at the pageant for the first time that year in Las Vegas in its 66th edition. Following year, the franchise remained with the organizers of Miss Nepal — The Hidden Treasure (THT) — and Manita Devkota became Nagma’s successor. She represented Nepal in Bangkok in 2018 and placed in the Top 10 — which still remains Nepal’s best performance in the pageant so far.

In 2019, Pradeepta Adhikari became the second Miss Universe Nepal to have won the title through THT’s Miss Nepal competition. She was Nepal’s bet at the international pageant in Georgia, USA that year. After its three-year run with THT, the franchise got separated and Nagma Shrestha continued it on her own with her new organization. Anshika Sharma won the title that year in 2020 and went to Florida to take part in the Miss Universe competition. Sujita Basnet and Sophiya Bhujel later won the Miss Universe titles in years 2021 and 2022, respectively.

This year’s was the first edition when the competition was open for not only married participants but even mothers after Miss Universe Organization modified the prerequisites for entry to make it more inclusive. Previously, contestants had to be unmarried and in case of victory, they needed to remain unmarried throughout their reign. On the other hand, the pageant has been allowing transgender participation since 2012 — years before the franchise arrived in Nepal. Sarosy Neupane, this year, became the first transwoman to place in the Top 10 of the Miss Universe Nepal competition.

Jane will travel to El Salvador later this year in November where the 72nd edition of Miss Universe is scheduled to take place. R’Bonney Gabriel of the United States, the reigning Miss Universe, will pass the crown to her successor during the grand finale on November 18th.

Neeraj Pun (NEO)

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