- Saumya Sharma, a second-year premedical student at the University of Virginia, and Sanjana Chekuri of New Jersey were first and second runner-ups, respectively.
Virginia teenager Aarya Walvekar was crowned Miss India USA 2022 at a glittering pageant at the Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords, New Jersey, on Aug. 5. Saumya Sharma, a second-year premedical student at the University of Virginia, was declared the first runner-up and Sanjana Chekuri of New Jersey was the second runner up at the 40th edition of the annual awards.
Akshi Jain of Washington was crowned Mrs. India USA and Tanvi Grover of New York was crowned Miss Teen India USA. The longest-running Indian pageant outside of India was started by New York-based Dharmatma and Neelam Saran under the banner of Worldwide Pageants.
As many as 74 contestants representing 30 states participated in the three different pageants. Winners of all three categories receive complimentary tickets to Mumbai early next year to take part in worldwide pageants.
Walvekar, 18, an aspiring actress, is a senior at Briar Woods High School in Virginia. A member of the school’s TEDx Talks team, she is “a passionate advocate for Mental Health and Body Positivity Health at Every Size Movement,” according to the team website. She has created various awareness campaigns, the website said, adding that she has also spoken at a TEDx event on “Rethinking ‘Healthy.”
She also participates in school and community theater and volunteered as a director for local kids’ plays. She is the founder of Euphoria Dance Studio — a small business that provides affordable dance lessons to local children. Additionally, she “loves to do yoga, cook for her friends and family, and spend time with her younger sister,” the website says.
After winning the pageant, Walvekar took to Instagram to share her thoughts. “The feelings I’m experiencing are indescribable,” she wrote.” “I have never been filled with this much gratitude in my life.” The young woman who was named Miss India D.C. continued: “I understand that this title is not just a crown, it is a duty, a responsibility. I plan on taking advantage of this amazing platform to spread love, positivity, and awareness.”
The Aug. 5 pageant was attended by singer Shibani Kashyap, who was also the guest of honor at the 11th annual India Day parade in Hicksville, New York, Aug. 7; as well as Miss India Worldwide 2022 Khushi Patel, and Mrs. India Worldwide 2022 Swathy Vimal.