Odia Girl Padmalaya Nanda has brought laurels for the country and her state by winning three mega titles at Little Miss Universe 2017 beauty pageant at Port City Batumi of Georgia, Europe. The 12-year-old bagged the Little Miss Universe Internet 2017 title along with Little Miss Universe Grand Prix and Little Miss Actress awards at the pageant.I haven’t decided anything in particular as I feel I am still not grown up completely to decide what I want to be in future. I want to do a job that would promote our culture and tradition and also help me do some social work.ready become a favourite of many on social media due to her charming and impressive personality. A student of class eighth at Stewart School, Cuttack, she had already won many titles including ‘Miss Pre-Teen Junior Model India’, ‘Best Ball Gown’ (the gown was designed by her) and ‘Miss Pre-Teen People’s Choice’.
Nanda has also been selected to represent India in ‘Little Miss World’ and ‘Junior Model International’ to be held in Greece and Goa respectively.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview with MCL before she left for Georgia for the pageant.
How and why did you get interested for this pageant?
Actually, I had a liking for this pageant from the beginning and I used to watch a lot of pageants and beauty contests on TV including Miss Universe and Miss World. As I got interested in them, I started wondering whether such a contest is held for girls in my age group. Then, I started searching the internet and finally came to know about Little Miss Universe pageant. I applied online and was selected to be a part of it.
I was always interested in a pageant that would give me a platform to represent the country internationally. And, I am happy that this pageant has given me that opportunity.
Tell us how you prepared for the pageant.
I focused a lot on preparing for the pageant. Along with talent, one needs to be intelligent and smart to win such a contest. I practiced ramp walk; for the talent round, I prepared a special Sambalpuri performance thus representing Odisha in the pageant. For the intellectual round, I had to brush up my knowledge skills and had prepared as per the requirements of the round. I used to also regularly watch videos from YouTube, but in the last week before the India level contest, I decided to take up professional training from Ajay Kumar Behera (John Sir).
Have you been a part of any other beauty contests?
Yes. When I won my first beauty contest, I was just two months and five days old! It was a Johnson Baby Contest. Then, I had won another baby contest organised by All Odisha Doctors’ Association when I was five months and 25 days old.
You are not only representing our state Odisha, but also India in the international pageant. How do you feel about it?
Definitely, I am feeling overjoyed. I will try my best to represent Odia as well as Indian culture in the international stage. I will give my best shot and try to make my country and state proud of me.
What is your strategy to grab the title?
My strategy will be to promote Odia culture in the pageant, as we have a strong cultural base and the pageant is also a kind of cultural festival. Beauty is not much needed here. What is required is talent and intellect!
Any difficulties you faced in your journey so far?
Yes, some difficulties did come in my way. Many things were not available here in Odisha that were necessary for me to participate in the pageant. Even after searching a lot of places across the state, I didn’t get the required items. My ball gown was incomplete without a particular kind of wing item that was necessary for me in the ‘Ball gown round’. It neither was available at any designer’s boutique nor at any other place.
Again, a particular kind of ballet shoes that were necessary in several rounds of the contest was not available. We bought them from Delhi. Also, the contest needed photographs in a particular format which no local photographer could manage here.
What has been the role of your family in your journey?
I want to confess something. When I applied for this pageant, I didn’t take my parents’ permission. After I got selected in a number of rounds and it was finalised, I told my parents about it. But then, they weren’t angry, instead were happy for me. Since then, they have been supporting me at every stage. They are doing whatever they can for me. Without their encouragement and support, I wouldn’t have reached where I am today.
Who has been your inspiration?
I have always idolised Pia Wurtzbach, who was the winner of Miss Universe 2015 title. She has a wonderful and pleasing personality and I admire her confidence and determination a lot.
How good are you as a student and what are your favourite subjects?
English and Odia are the subjects I like the most. I like studying literature more as compared to other subjects. I like Odia because it is my mother tongue. When it comes to English, it has become a universal language and in most of the places you need to speak English. I can also speak American English and British English.
Tell us about your other hobbies, if any.
Yeah, I do have a lot of them. I like travelling, reading books, listening music, cooking, doing meditation and yoga.
So, what do you want to be in future?
I haven’t decided anything in particular as I feel I am still not grown up completely to decide what I want to be in future. I want to do a job that would promote our culture and tradition and also help me do some social work.