A host of Indian beauties from the world over came together to show that culture can bridge the racial divide at the Miss India Worldwide Pageant in Durban, South Africa.
Even the absence of Aishwarya Rai, who was to play the morale-booster for the contestants, did not dampen the spirits of the participants who danced and wrote poetry.
But what stood out most was the awareness of Indian roots and the pride for Indianness among the participants.
For instance, Miss India-Nigeria, Xiyan Aweke, surprised the jury by conversing in fluent Hindi and dancing to Indian music despite having a Nigerian father.
Then Miss India-Dubai, Santripi Vellody gave an impromptu rendition of short Carnatic and North Indian classical items. The mood was further revved up by Miss India-Guyana, Amrita Persuad, who impressed one and all by playing Indian melodies on the harmonium.
After that Miss India-Switzerland, Amrita Chandra, read out extracts from a book she had written on growing up as an Indian female in a foreign country.
Miss India-Australia, Lalenya Brown, made an impassioned plea for a reversion to Gandhian ideals to solve the problems facing the world.
The 25 participants will take part in two more rounds of judging at a sold-out gala banquet on Saturday where the chosen Miss India Worldwide 2002 will be crowned by the reigning beauty, South African Sarika Sukdeo.