By Michelle Williams
Carmel resident Prakriti Bhargava was crowned 2016 Indy International Festival Queen Nov. 5 in the contest held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. This was Bhargava’s first time to enter the competition, and she represented the India Association of Indianapolis.
The pageant is sponsored by the Nationalities Council of Indiana and was revived in 2014 for the first time since 1990. Contestants are judged for ethnic attire, talent, evening gown and interview. Bhargava performed a Bollywood medley dance for the talent portion.
Bhargava, 22, received a crown, bouquet of flowers and $300 scholarship for her win.
“The main responsibility of being queen is to serve as goodwill ambassador for the Nationalities Council of Indiana. I will be going to various events throughout Indiana that promote the spread of diversity,” Bhargava said. She has already received an invitation to participate in the NCI float in the 2016 Indy 500 Festival Parade.
The Carmel High School graduate was formally recognized for her accomplishment during the India Association’s Diwali celebration Nov. 14. Diwali is the largest annual event for the group, and Bhargava was awarded a seat at the VIP table.
“My parents are very strong on culture. Growing up, my parents always made sure that culture was part of my life.” Bhargava said.
Bhargava said that the India Association is the starting point she would recommend to anyone wishing to learn more about Indian culture.
“Come to our events — it’s definitely a great way to learn about Indian people,” she said.
During the interview portion of the pageant, Bhargava was asked to give advice to young girls struggling with school.
“My advice would be to believe in themselves and have self-confidence, because that’s the backbone of any problem,” she said. “So if they set their goals high in school and just believe in themselves, they’ll rise to the top.”