Bartika Rai, 22, was crowned Miss Nepal US 2013 at the grand finale of the beauty pageant held at Queens Theater in New York on August 17, 2013. In this post we present to you Bartika’s brief bio, her experience as a contestant at this year’s Miss Nepal US pageant as well as her views/opinions in various matters including beuty, beauty pageant, her future plans and her suggestions to young Nepali girls.
Bartika Rai’s brief bio in her own words:
I came to The US on August 2012. I am currently studying at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with a major in Accounting and double minor in Finance and Music. I make music, my first instrument is Voice and I also play a little bit of the guitar and the piano. I am a writer, and practice experimental fiction. I used to blog extensively and deleted the website just 3 months ago, but will start one soon. After graduating high school from Budhanilkantha School in 2010, I took 2 years off and worked on various different areas. I taught A Level students in Rupy’s International School and Thames International School, and I was an RJ in Gorkha FM for a short period of time. I started as an intern at Navyaata magazine being promoted to an Editorial writer and was the Sub Editor of Navyaata magazine at the age of 20. I have also worked with ECS Living and ECS Teenz as an in-house writer for a short period of time. I have always been engaged in my community and coming to The US made me feel very limited because since it is not my home, I was restricted in many things I wanted to do. This is also why I participated in this contest, to be in touch with the Nepali community away from home.
1. Please share with us your experience participating at the Miss Nepal US 2013.
I went into Miss Nepal US 2013 assuming that I would meet superficial girls who would only be worried about their hair and their nails. I grew up watching Miss Nepal, fascinated by the pageant but mostly criticizing the details by ganging up with my friends; like most youngsters do back home. Miss Nepal US 2013 has been surprising in many different levels, in mostly good ways. The best thing I have taken from the pageant is not the crown, but the wonderful women of power I met. The women I met there were educated, liberal, had an opinion on issues, and had a direction of their lives already. The experience of discussing political and environmental issues of Nepal for 4 straight hours is one of the many intellectual things I have taken away from this pageant. Moreover, it was amazing how my mentor Malvika Subba always clarified about how intelligence always came before the makeup and the hair. My respect for beauty queens and beauty pageants has dramatically increased, I have networked with amazing women and I have been inspired by this pageant.
2. How do you define beauty?
Beauty for me is patience, self-motivation, dedication and the strength to be accepting of everybody around myself while I accept myself for who I am. Beauty is having hopes in the worst of times and being grounded in the best of times. And not surprisingly, this kind of beauty is rare.
3. You talked about accepting the reality and said “differences exists” in the promo video of Miss Nepal US 2013. What differentiates you from others?
I am individualistic in everything I do and everything I think of. I am original in the ways I have opinions on issues, have plans for the community. I am different in my choices, even the choices I make about the books I want to read differentiates me from the others. It is very obvious that each person is different. I just want to leave it that way and am not a big fan of grouping people into categories and creating sanctions to be a model stereotype.
4.What encouraged you to take part in a beauty pageant? Why do you think girls like you should participate in a beauty pageant?
As I mentioned I used to be a huge critic of beauty pageants, I actually went into this pageant because I grew out of criticizing. It was the right time, I was at New York, and I wanted to be exposed to the Nepali community in The US. If I did not participate this year, I would never have participated, hence never have known how it felt like to actually be on the other side. I have always hoped for change in Nepal and have realized it should start with me. My interest was self-motivated, with the support of aama and my friends. Girls like me should participate in this pageant to push themselves outside their comfort zones, discover themselves, and contribute to their community.
5. How did you feel when the announcer called your name as the winner?
Before the finale, I had called aama and told her how I had met wonderful women through the contest. I told her about how all my assumptions were wrong in a pleasant way and how I had grown, in just 6 days! I had told her about how even if I did not win that night, I already would be taking away these amazing people with me, and I had my life to go back to. After that phone conversation with aama, I felt amazingly calm. I was surprisingly very composed throughout the show. Therefore, even when Manavi di called my name, I did not have a fixed emotion on my face or inside of me. Somebody had to win, and so I did. Just one month back, I would have read this answer and thought of how pageant-y this answer is and would laugh at the winner trying to be diplomatic. Now, it is me; and I know it is an honest response. The feeling is taking time to sink in. Being Miss Nepal US 2013 would not change anything other than responsibility. I was Bartika Rai, and still am the same girl.
6. Now that you are Miss Nepal US, have you thought about what projects or goals will you be working on as a beauty queen?
Yes I have. I am working on my proposals to work on workshops and trainings in the areas I am interested in. Also, I could be supporting some grassroot level foundations. I will not publicize the name of the foundations or my project details as of yet since I have a few months to decide on that and I do not have my final project detail as of yet. But in a few months, it will definitely be out.
7. Living in the US, far from our motherland, how can we motivate Nepalis living here to make contribution towards Nepal? How do you plan to encourage other Nepali youths to help build a new prosperous Nepal?
It is time Nepalis living everywhere understand that Nepal is our ‘home’, it is not a transit or a place where we stay for our first few years to go to a better one. Rather than blaming everybody and expecting another Buddha to come, individuals should now start taking responsibility. I am a strong believer of self-motivation, and if the motivation does not come from within, there is not much that we can do to motivate anybody to work for Nepal. The good thing is, I have noticed many of my friends being self-motivated now and working for the nation. I hope the trend continues. The only way I see practical for me to encourage other Nepali youths to participate in this revolution is to hopefully inspire them, or engage as many people as I can in my projects.
8. Any suggestions for others interested in participating in next Miss Nepal US or any other beauty pageant.
I would like to tell them to find the courage in themselves to participate, even if this is outside their comfort zone. I will also tell them that the pageant was well organized and none of the participants faced any of the controversies that actually pumped up the show. Also, this is what my friend Pranav Manandhar told me before I went into this pageant, and for many reasons I believe this is why I won, so I will pass it to you. “Be yourself. Find the courage in you to be yourself. You are the best when you are yourself.”
9. How can someone contact you to work together in future projects?
You can always send me a message through Facebook or contact my organizing board Event Planet Inc. to get to me. If it is a practical project, I will most definitely accept it.
10. Any words for the young Nepali girls living in America?
Please stay in constant touch with our Nepali community, wherever you are. Be aware about our country at all times, it could be about anything you are interested in. It does not always have to be political, you can be aware about environmental, educational, or even artistic realities of Nepal. But, stay in touch with Nepal and know where your place is back at home.