WHEN 18-year-old Michelle Baldeen spread her wings, the audience at the Miss Divali Nagar beauty pageant went wild.
Held on Sunday night, the pageant is described as one of the "most important aspects" of the Divali Nagar, held annually at Chaguanas.
Speaking to the Express via telephone yesterday, Baldeen said, "It was thrilling to see and hear, people were in awe" when she opened her wings.
A beauty pageant connoisseur, the second-year Computing and Systems Development student knew that she needed to give it her all to capture the title of Miss Divali Nagar 2012.
"I am so happy I won, it really was a lot of hard work," she said.
Baldeen, who participated in Miss Naturally Fair 2011 and Miss Bollywood 2009 and won, outshined 12 other girls in her mirrored blue and purple sari with gold and silver embroidery and a sash made to look like butterfly wings to be crowned queen.
"I enjoyed participating in the journey leading up to the pageant... it was a very educational experience," she said.
Pageant producer and National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) executive, Purushottam Singh, said this was the ninth year of the pageant and they only hoped to have it better in the years to come.
Singh said they advertised for the pageant through WinTV, held an "audition with the girls" and chose the finalists for Sunday night's show.
"We had a lot of response, but we had to choose the best," he said.
Baldeen, who took the first prize, won two tickets to Orlando, Florida with seven days paid accommodation, $5,000 spending money and passes to MGM and Walt Disney.
Megan Ramroop, 19, took second place to win an all inclusive trip for two to Laguna Mar, in Margarita.
Third place winner, Amanda Kisson, copped two tickets to Curacao and hotel accommodation at Howard Johnson Hotel.
Other finalists included Sharda Siewsankar, Shinila Samlal, Shivana Maharaj, Nicole Gomez, Shivana Seukaran, Samanta Ramkaran, Amanda Lutchman, Vaishwatie Bimraj and Hematee Bisram.
As an NCIC executive, Singh added that the $1 million given to them by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will be used to improve the Nagar site and expand the competition.
"We are always grateful because the Nagar has suffered over the years to get things done and as you can see the money is well spent."
"The money we got last year we used it to extend the place, install better lighting system and improve the stage and now with this extra, we will see different things next year as well," he said.