Miss Nepal 2018: Bound by sash
Taking a brief break from the roller coaster but enriching journey of participating in the Miss Nepal 2018 pageant, Shrinkhala Khatiwada, Manita Devokota, Priya Sigdel and Ronali Amatya sat down for an interesting conversation with Smart Family.
Imagine going through a rigorous tedious training every day for three months straight, from the wee hours of morning till late evening, and having your dream fixated on that split second when you hold your breath in anticipation of your name being announced on the speaker as the winner of Miss Nepal. The crown is heavy, not necessarily because of jewels but because of countless hopes and expectations fixed firmly on your head, forever to be etched in history. Even though the title of Miss Nepal may look all gold and glitter from the outside, it requires tremendous determination, hard work, patience, and humility to win and conquer it with grace.
Perhaps this whirlwind journey is made worthwhile by the company of the people you share the stage with. These people suddenly are there for you in your ups and downs. They hold the train of your dress in front of the cameras, synchronically take that deep breath with you when you face a tough interview, complement you without restraint, become the last minute outfit saviors, and experience the same fears and hopes as you and others on the ramp. This is how the relationship of ‘sash sisters’ is born. They all agree that this relationship is nothing but beautiful and hope to treasure it their entire life.
Congratulation on being crowned Miss Nepal 2018. How are you all enjoying your victory?
Priya: It has been a wonderful experience. However, more than that we are focusing on enjoying our victory more responsibly.
Shrinkhala: I’m just really grateful for the love I’ve been receiving. However, I now realize the incredible amount of responsibility I have towards the society and my country.
Manita: Every day has been an adventure since the crowning moment. It was fun being with the girls, and encouraging and supporting each other throughout the pageant.
Ronali: Thank you so much. Every moment has been an absolute pleasure because Miss Nepal was my dream and I have now accomplished it. Thankfully, the schedule is also not as hectic as it was during training.
What was your first reaction when you were crowned?
Priya: It was a defining moment for me but it was also very difficult. I had cramps in my leg, but in spite of that I had to maintain my composure throughout the program. Besides that, I was bewildered and happy.
Shrinkhala: That moment was surreal for me. During that time there was a short blackout, and I was quite literally shaking. I had to take support from Nikita to hold myself together.
Manita: I went blank the moment they announced my name. I was even in denial. What kept me moving was the clear instruction go to the center of the stage.
Ronali: The first thought was, “Wow, this is actually happening.” I was euphoric but more than that I was conscious about not ruining the choreography.
How has your life changed after being crowned?
Priya: I think I knew my life wouldn’t be the same from the training sessions itself, rather than from the crowning moment. I now find myself valuing and managing time more efficiently and realizing that every moment is precious.
Shrinkhala: ‘My life will never be the same’ -- this realization is something that strikes true for me, whether it is the values that I have learned in my journey or the life alterations that came with my winning the crown. I see a lot of positive changes in me.
Manita: It has been a whirlwind journey, from countless interviews to photo shoots. I am now known to my many people. I have now also been more active in the media.
Ronali: Well, for me life is still the same. It’s just the incredible responsibility and expectations that come with the crown. Now the people of Nepal look up to me with certain expectations.
Did you expect to win the crown?
Priya: Yes, it is natural to expect to win after all the hard work that you put in during the training. But more than that we were hopeful that we’d win.
Shrinkhala: Yes, we were hopeful that we would win. We were confident but not over-confident.
Manita: No I didn’t quite honestly feel that I would win the crown. I was just hopeful and confident. I remember telling myself that it would be alright even if I didn’t win. All that mattered was that I had given my best.
Ronali: I was quite hopeful that I’d win, considering all the hard work I had put in. I wasn’t over confident.
Did you always want to see yourself as ‘Miss Nepal’?
Priya: Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a Miss Nepal. It was my childhood dream.
Shrinkhala: Yes, I had always dreamt of being a Miss Nepal. I had it even figured out that 2018 would be the year that I’d participate.
Manita: For me (laughs) Miss Nepal came out quite surprisingly. It was a sudden decision for me rather than a long held dream.
Ronali: Miss Nepal has always been my lifelong dream. Even when I was child, I aspired to become one.
What has been the role of your family in journey and in winning the crown?
Priya and Shrinkhala: Our families have been nothing but supportive during our whole journey. They understood and encouraged our dream of becoming Miss Nepal. Their approval has been the biggest support. Their undivided attention, and positive attitude has made all the difference in helping us achieve our goals.
Manita: Even though I hadn’t informed my family about my decision to enter Miss Nepal at the beginning, they were nevertheless supportive. In fact, I told my family only when I started my training and the contestant photos were out in the media.
Ronali: I believe my parents are the reason for who I am today. They played the most important role by being my strength throughout my journey as Miss Nepal.
What are your goals and expectations for this coming year as you will represent Nepal in the international arena?
Priya: Being in this position means that your voice is heard in the mass media. My biggest goal for this year is to represent Nepal in Miss Earth International, and to give a voice for the issues I am passionate about.
Shrinkhala: I want to represent Nepal with grace and confidence in Miss World. I am all focused on the title of ‘Beauty with a Purpose,’ which is a very prestigious award and winning it means that I will be directly qualified to be amongst the top finalists. My biggest goal is to win the title of ‘Beauty with a purpose.’
Manita: Having grown up in America since I was eight, I haven’t been able to explore Nepal at the fullest. My wish is to acquaint myself with my country and to accordingly work on certain issues that I am passionate about. And as Nepal hasn’t won an international beauty pageant in the past, my goal is to make that happen.
Ronali: My biggest goal is to represent Nepal in Miss International with competency and to make the unprecedented happen.
What kind of relationship has grown between the four of you as ‘sash sisters’?
All four: We have a really close bond between us. Maybe it is because of the common experience we are all going through. It would not be wrong to say we are ‘sisters from different mothers’.
What was the most challenging part of Miss Nepal preparation?
Priya: For me, the biggest challenge was managing time as the training was really hectic. We had to train from morning till evening, which also takes a lot of dedication and management. I can assuredly say now that I am more efficient in managing my time in whatever I do every day.
Shrinkhala: Miss Nepal is definitely a life changing event. For me, one of the most challenging things was taking utmost pain to make myself perfectly presentable. I could not go places in my pajamas or glasses, like the way I did before even though I find that very comfortable (Laughs).
Manita: Having grown up in America since I was eight, one of the biggest challenges for me was fitting into Nepali culture with which I want to familiarize myself.
Ronali: Every day was challenging. However if have to pick one, it would be changing my look every single day. We were told not to look the same every day.
Define your Miss Nepal journey in three words.
Priya: Exciting, tough, and transforming.
Shrinkhala: Empowering, challenging, and memorable.
Manita: Transforming, empowering, and self-discovery.
Ronali: Empowering, enlightening, unforgettable.
What is the one the biggest things that you will treasure from your Miss Nepal journey?
All four: If we have to choose one thing from the entire Miss Nepal journey, then it is surely is the close bond we developed with contestants in the course of our time together in the pageant.
1. Describe yourself in a hashtag
2. Style icon?
Priya: Sonam Kapoor
Shrinkhala: Ranveer Singh
Manita: I get a lot of my outfit ideas from Pinterest
Ronali: I just google it!
3. Secret talent
Priya: Writing poetry.
Shrinkhala: Impersonation and caricature of people.
Ronali: I can understand and grasp new things really well.
4. Best advice you’ve received?
Priya: During one of the motivational classes, the speakers told me to never be insecure about how I am, whether it is my height or physical attribute. To be insecure is to doubt the incredible gift of God and our loving parents who bestowed us this life. One must never cease to love one’s identity.
Shrinkhala: “Don’t make someone else the center of your universe.” This is because I have always tried to find happiness in someone else’s approval. Accepting and heeding this advice has made me independent and opinionated.
Manita: “If you want something, get it done.”
Ronali: The 3As - Accept, Approve and Appreciate.
5. Best compliment you’ve received?
Priya: Someone once told me that even though I look really tough from the outside, I am quite a softie when others finally get to know me better.
Shrinkhala: I inspire people and touch their lives in some way or other.
Manita: I have received many compliments but the one that touches me the most is when people say that I inspire them to be or do something better.
Ronali: That I’ve inspired or motivated people in any possible way or when people say “Because of you I’ve started this.”
6. How do you define beauty?
Priya: Beauty in my opinion is when you respect and value your essence. It is the character and heart that really set you apart.
Shrinkhala: Beauty is what you radiate on the outside. It sounds cliché but beauty is ‘inside out.’ Outer beauty fades with time or it may differ according to people’s eyes but what you have inside your heart, your morals and ideals stay with you forever.
Manita: Beauty is compassion for fellow human beings. It is not external but completely subjective. That’s why when I see someone attractive people I say they that are ‘pretty’ not ‘beautiful.’
Ronali: Beauty isn’t something you see but something you actually feel. It’s all about the inner qualities.
7. How do you define success?
Priya: Success for me is happiness. Even if I fail or don’t have a good position or pay check, but have an inward happiness then that is success for me.
Shrinkhala: Success for me is not winning but standing strong and never giving up.
Manita: Success is going after your dreams. It is the motivation to try learning something and not necessarily winning. It is the state of having ‘no regrets.’
Ronali: Success is happiness for me. It’s when I lead others along with myself towards a better, happier and healthier life.
8. Something you never leave your house without?
Manita: Wallet and phone
9. Song you can listen to on repeat?
Shrinkhala: Aerosmith’s “I don’t want to miss a thing.”
Manita: Kygo’s “This town.”
Ronali: Bipul Chettri’s “Gahiro gahiro.”