divali beauty: Miss Divali Nagar 2009 Karissa Maharaj shortly after she was crowned on Sunday night at the Divali Nagar site, Chaguanas. —Photo: TREVOR HACKETT

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Karissa is Divali Nagar queen

By Ariti Jankie South Bureau

Karissa Maharaj was crowned Miss Divali Nagar 2009 shortly after midnight Sunday, while Sangeeta Subnaik was declared winner of the Coca-Cola Youth Champ contest early Sunday morning.

Organised by the National Council of Indian Culture, the queen pageant was held in conjunction with the National Flour Mills while Caribbean Bottlers Ltd was the main sponsor of the youth champ contest, both held at Divali Nagar 2009 in Chaguanas.

Maharaj, 22, a computer engineering student of Gasparillo, won the title from 11 contestants. Subnaik, a pupil of the Holy Faith Convent, Penal, competed with 19 others to win the contest at this year's mammoth annual Divali Nagar celebrations that run for nine days (October 8 - 16).

Wearing a shimmering red and gold sari, Maharaj stood out above the other contestants at five feet, six inches tall.

She was crowned by last year's winner, Kimberly Maharaj, who took the stage in a gold-coloured heavily embroidered sari.

The winner received US$500 and two tickets to Orlando, Florida.

Samantha Shivani Kandhoo was the first runner-up with Nirmala Ragbir and Amrita Ramkissoon in the second and third positions.

The Sunday night five-hour concert featured Malick All Stars tassa group followed by Veejai Ramkissoon singing classical songs, Courts Nirvana Dance group, Apsara Dance Academy of Guyana and dances by Savitri Tolan of Jamaica. Music was supplied by D. Rampersad Indi Art orchestra featuring Teddy, Neval and Akash Bissambhar, Rajesh Dalla and Kamini Prabhu.

Subnaik, of San Francique Road, Penal, won $15,000 in the youth champ contest.

Second place winner Varma Maharaj received $7,500 while Rohan Ramdeo placed third followed by Brian Mungroo, Seetal Sirjudeen and Sasha Balchan. Special awards for duet went to Amrit and Amrita Dookhram while Vishala Valya Dowtal won a special prize for classical singing.

Among the performers on Saturday night were Dr Beni Balkaran, Surendra Solomon, Shalini Heetai, Apsara Dance Academy, Evergreen Tassa Group, Ganesh and Shalini Gopaul, Savitri Tolan and last year's youth champ winner Ravi Jagroop.

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