Published: 13th December 2021
What the FAQ: What are the biggest international pageants and how has India fared in them?
Harnaaz Sandhu, a semi-finalist at Femina Miss India, became the third Miss Universe from India, after 21 years, this Sunday
Pageants are held the world over at various levels, nationally and internationally. Most recently, Harnaaz Sandhu became the latest Indian to win the Miss Universe pageant held at Eilat in Israel. But what are the Big 4 when it comes to the pageant world? Which nations have been the most successful? What is the criteria by which the contestants are ranked? How has India performed over the years? We answer all these questions about the world's beauty pageants.
What are collectively known as the Big 4 in international beauty pageants?
The four most prestigious beauty pageants recognised around the world are Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss Earth. The oldest among these is Miss World, which was founded in 1951 and was first won by Kiki Håkansson of Sweden. The most recently instituted among the four is Miss Earth, which was founded in 2001, where Catharina Svensson of Denmark was the inaugural winner.
What is the basis on which the contestants are ranked and awarded the top spots?
In the preliminary round, judges award points based on three categories. The first is beauty, grace and charm. The second is intelligence, poise and personality. Finally, comes the category of figure and deportment. In the Miss World pageant, there are several fast track events that allow participants to skip rounds and progress further. These include sports, talent, beach beauty and top model. Another fast track criteria is the 'Beauty with a Purpose' event. In the finals, points are awarded for making the closing statement to the final question posed by the judges. This is the final opportunity for each participant to convince the judges that they deserve to win the title. Each pageant also has a specific advocacy that is akin to having a theme that sets it apart from the other three. For example, the Miss Earth pageant lays heavy emphasis on promoting environmental awareness, conservation and so
Who are the Indians who have won at the Big 4 pageants?
The first Indian to ever win a title at any of the four pageants was Reita Faria, who won the 1966 Miss World competition. Since then, five more Indians have won the Miss World — Aishwarya Rai in 1994, Diana Hayden in 1997, Yukta Mookhey in 1999, Priyanka Chopra in 2000 and, more recently, Manushi Chhillar in 2017. Three Indians have won the Miss Universe title — Sushmita Sen in 1994, Lara Dutta in 2000 and Harnaaz Sandhu in 2021. With her win in 2010, Nicole Faria remains the only woman from the country who has won the Miss Earth. No Indian has ever won the Miss International pageant.
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Which other countries have been the most successful at the Big 4?
Venezuela has been at the forefront of the world pageant scene with 23 combined victories at the Big 4 competitions. The Philippines and USA follow in joint second with 15 wins each, while Puerto Rico has 10 wins to its name.
When and where will the next of the Big 4 be held?
The 70th edition of Miss World will be held in Puerto Rico on December 16, where the previous winner Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica will crown her successor.