Miss Universe 2021: Tracing Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu’s journey from a village in Gurudaspur to international beauty paegent

Harnaaz brought the crown back home after 21 long years since Lara Dutta won the title in 2000

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India's Harnaaz Sandhu waves after being crowned Miss Universe 2021 during the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Eilat, Israel. (AP/PTI Photo)

Punjab girl Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu’s win at the Miss Universe 2021 beauty pageant in Israel not just cheered the nation but took a sleepy village of Kohali in Gurudaspur district by storm, getting the villagers together to celebrate the win on Monday.

Although Harnaaz shifted to Mohali with her parents many years ago, she frequently visited her ancestral roots. Her uncle lives in Kohali and works on the family farm lands. Early this year when she secured the title of Miss Diva Universe 2021 which led her to the Miss Universe pageant, she visited Kohali and even posed on a tractor to express solidarity with farmer’s movement at Delhi borders.

On her visit to Kohali in September she expressed her pride for belonging to Gurudaspur where everyone prayed for her success and promised to do her best to bring more laurels their way. According to Karamjit Singh, a villager, she was also concerned about the farmer’s cause and to show her support for a bhangra performance.

Although she did not personally comment on the farmer’s agitation but shared tweets made by Rihanna and Greta Thunberg in support of the stir in February this year.

Villagers also remember Harnaaz for having a spiritual side. One of them recounts how she sung a hymn from gurbani during the bhog ceremony of her grandfather.

Harnaaz brought the crown back home after 21 long years since Lara Dutta won the title in 2000 Starting with modeling at a young age, Harnaaz had won several beauty pageants from Miss Chandigarah in 2017 to Femina Miss India Punjab in 2019 and Miss Diva Universe 2021. She has also had a brief stint in action, mostly in regional cinema.

Her Miss Universe delegate bio reads that she draws inspiration from her gynaecologist mother who broke generations of patriarchs to become what she is today and led her family by example.

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