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Adline Castelino of India is 3rd Runner-up at Miss Universe Pageant Held in Florida

Adline Castelino of India is 3rd Runner-up at Miss Universe Pageant Held in Florida

  • The 22-year-old model broke India’s 20-year drought at the beauty contest to be in the Top 5 after actress Celina Jaitly was the fourth runner-up in 2001.

Twenty-two-year-old model Adline Castelino broke India’s 20-year drought at the Miss Universe pageant, as she was declared third runner-up at the 69th edition of the contest, held on May 15 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Andrea Meza of Mexico won the coveted title of Miss Universe for 2020, while Julia Gama, 28, of Brazil and Janick Maceta, 27, of Peru were first and second runner-up respectively. Castelino won the Miss Diva Universe pageant last year, making her eligible to participate in the coveted global platform to represent India. 

The last time an Indian was in the top five at the Miss Universe pageant was in 2011 when actress Celina Jaitly won fourth runner-up place. Prior to that, India has won two Miss Universe titles, Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000. 

Miss Diva Universe India congratulated Castelino on its official Twitter page. History made! India’s  @AdlineCastelino bags the 3rd Runner-Up title at the 69th Miss Universe Pageant. We are so proud of our LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2020, @AdlineCastelino. Our hearts are full of pride and happiness.”

Several netizens took to Twitter to congratulate Castelino. Jaitly took to the micro blogging site  to congratulate Castelino and go down memory lane as well. She shared a photo collage of her win and wrote: “When I became Miss Universe 2001 – Runners Up, I didn’t realise it would take 20 years for India to reach this position again. Hearty congratulations to @AdlineCastelino on nailing the runners up for India, congratulations @MissDivaOrg @feminamissindia. Its great to see India shine.”

On Instagram, Rochelle Rao Sequeira, who was crowned Miss India International in 2012, shared a video of her from her pageant and wrote: “I know I’m a proud Indian woman! And today making our country proud is another fellow Indian woman @adline_castelinofficial who brings home the trophy! For all you beautiful women out there, celebrate womanhood and if you are Indian be proud about it. Times may be tough but remember we are winners!”

A Proud Indian

On stage, Castelino made an impression during the various rounds, including the Question & Answer segment and the final speech. In the national costume round, she was seen in an elegant 6 yards sari, inspired by the national flower of India, the lLotus, which symbolizes knowledge and spirituality. The beautiful and exquisite costume was designed by Hyderabad based designer Shravan Kumar. The border and pallu of the sari are encrusted with embroidery depicting the three-hundred-year-old Pichwai art form adding grace.

During the evening gown round, she wore a shimmering gold gown by Falguni Shane Peacock. She wore a short dress by the Indian designer duo for rehearsals before the beauty contest began. At the opening round, she wore a short blue evening dress by designer brand Sherri Hill. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the pageant by a year — it was earlier supposed to happen in 2020, instead of 2021 — questions related to it were asked, mainly on lockdown and its effect on the economy.

In the Question & Answer rounds, Castelino was asked if countries should lockdown due to COVID-19, despite the strain on their economy, or if they should open their borders and risk a potential increase in infection rates. She answered: “Coming from India and witnessing what India is experiencing right now, I have realized something very important — that nothing is more important than the health of your loved ones. And you have to draw a balance between economy and health. And that can only be done when the government works with the people hand-in-hand, and produces something that will work with the economy.”

In her final speech, the young woman was given a minute to talk on “free speech and the right to protest..” Her reply: “We have seen many protests in recent days. I want to especially point out the protests that women have made throughout the years, with equal rights. And till today, we lack them. Protests help us raise our voice against what’s happening, against inequality. It helps minorities in any democracy to raise their voice. Protests are important. But, what’s not important is when you use it — because with every right, comes a responsibility. So, use it with power.”

Who is Adline Castelino?

Castelino was born in Kuwait City to Mangalorean Catholic parents Alphonse and Meera Castellino, who hail from Udyavara in Udupi, Karnataka. At age 15, she returned to India and moved to Mumbai, where she attended St. Xavier’s High School. She later attended Wilson College where she graduated with a degree in Business Administration. 

She currently works as a Goodwill Ambassador for Smile Train, is the face for the PCOS Free India Campaign, and collaborates with SNEHA, an organization that provides affordable healthcare to women. Castelino advocates for the rights of farmers in her community to have sustainable livelihoods and works closely with Vikas Sahyog Pratishthan to give back to deprived rural communities. She has raised money for the Child Help Foundation (CHF), through a crowdfunding platform called Ketto, and has often advocated on spreading more awareness about the acceptance of LGBT community. She also advocates to encourage leadership qualities in women by conducting leadership programs. 

In an interview with the Press Trust of India, Castelino spoke about being proud to represent India at Miss Universe platform. “As a young girl growing up in Kuwait with no exposure, I would always look up to Miss Universe with so much awe but never imagined a girl like me who had a speech defect and had marks on her body could ever represent her country on such a prestigious platform,” she said. “Leaving home at 15 pushed me beyond my comfort zone and forced me to look at positives in life and work on my strengths.”

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After Castelino was crowned Miss Diva Universe, life changed tremendously with the kind of responsibility that came on her shoulders and the interactions I had with people. “I felt like I was a girl yesterday but now I had to walk towards being a woman, a woman who supported society, raised issues that she believed in,” she told PTI. She said the journey has taught her a lot, “especially to be grateful for what I had and a position like this in society can always make a positive impact.” 

Her strength lies in facing challenges head on. “I represent those 664 million women from my country who believe in pushing for change irrespective of limitations. My life journey and my passion to create opportunities for girls like the one created for me makes me unique.” 

When asked if she aspires to be an actor like many beauty queens, she said: “ have always been an adventurous person, open to trying every aspect of my personality in every opportunity that comes my way. So, of course, I wouldn’t mind it (acting) but I also aspire to venture into business since I am a business graduate, and my passion lies there too. So let’s see what the future has in store for me.” 

Before participating in the pageant, she appeared in music videos by artistes Arjun Kanungo and Shreyas Dharmadhikari. “Mere Dil Vich,” by Kanungo, featuring Tanzeel Khan, released in February and has garnered over 1.8 million views.

In 2019, Castelino was seen in “Tere Bina” with Shreyas Dharmadhikari. It has over 11,000 views.

Covid Warrior

Castelino established herself as a COVID warrior since the beginning of the global pandemic by distributing essential commodities among the less privileged. She also has arranged fundraisers and taken initiatives to fight against the COVID-19 virus.

Last year, immediately after Castelino was crowned Miss Diva Universe, the country slipped into a national lockdown, and all her aspirations to work towards effecting a positive effect in the country hit a roadblock. “I will always cherish in my life that there was a moment when I represented the country and got so much love from people,” she told PinkVilla. “It’s doesn’t come out of a place of fear but of gratefulness,” she said. There are so many things I wanted to do. But then, I realized that it’s my choice to be a victim or a victor. I realized the internal freedom I had, and to be grateful for what life offers you,” she added. 

“It’s a very different journey and something I had to figure out on my own. I was never a technologically sound person but I learnt a lot on how to use Instagram, zoom and developed my strengths. The pandemic also taught me to be more humane. The entire journey helped me understand that the pageant is really not just about you. It’s for your people, and since they are giving you the platform you will have to do something for them.”

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