By Taylor Penley
Bollywood actress and model Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned the 70th Miss Universe at the 2021 pageant hosted in Eilat, Israel late Sunday.
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 13, 2021
Sandhu said she feels “overwhelmed” by the title “because it’s been 21 years since India got Miss Universe crown and it’s happening right now,” the AP reported.
Outrage over the decision to hold the Miss Universe pageant in Israel came from a number of Palestinian countries who called for boycotting the event to protest Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people. (RELATED: US Protests Over Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Ignite In Major Cities).
Pro-Palestinian organizations tried to organize a boycott of the competition because of its location in Israel. Indonesia and Malaysia, two predominantly Muslim nations, chose not to send representatives, citing COVID-19 concerns.
Sandhu defeated contestants from over 80 countries to claim India’s first Miss Universe title in over two decades.
Only two other Indians won the title in the past, Tribune India reported.
Mazal Tov! बधाई हो! 🎉
— Israel in India (@IsraelinIndia) December 13, 2021
“I am immensely grateful to the Almighty, my parents, and the Miss India Organisation for guiding and supporting me throughout,” Sandhu said, according to the outlet. “Loads of love to everyone who prayed and wished the crown for me.”
Paraguay’s Nadia Ferreira came in second, and South Africa’s Lalela Mswane came in third, the outlet reported.