Vancouver beauty Lavanya Hiremath, makes top 5 in Miss India-Canada (w/gallery)

Lavanya Hiremath

Miss India Canada contestant Lavanya Hiremath from Vancouver. Courtesy: Farooq Salik

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI 

The only Vancouver beauty from Saturday’s Miss India-Canada pageant in Toronto will be returning to the West Coast without the crown she sought — but the experience she gained from the South Asian beauty contest was worth much more.

Lavanya Hiremath, 24, grew up in Dubai with Indian parents. She first came to Canada to study at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ont. and moved to B.C. in 2007, ultimately settling in downtown Vancouver, where she’s studying interior design at Vancouver College of Art and Design.

But ever since her move to Canada she’s fallen out of touch with her heritage, so the 23rd annual Miss India-Canada pageant gave her the much needed opportunity to reconnect with her South Asian roots.

“We grow up in Canada kind of losing track of our own culture, but we hear about it from our parents,” Hiremath told Vancouver Desi before the pageant. “We don’t go around wearing Indian clothes or watching Indian movies or even just being involved with the Indian community as much, just because life gets in the way.”

While Hiremath made it into the top five contestants, the title of Miss India-Canada ultimately went to Toronto contestant, Harleen Malhans.

But even without the big win, the preparation and the competition — in which she competed against 15 other contestants—  allowed Hiremath to fully explore her culture.

The glamorous event boasted a range of Indian culture and heritage, especially in the talent round— in which Hiremath speed-painted a picture of Mahatma Gandhi — but there was also an entire round dedicated to fashion, with Hiremath showcasing a Toronto designer.

“Just doing my research for this pageant has made me learn more about Indian fashion and things like that,” she said. “It’s a completely different world from European fashion.

“You get to know (the) styles — you get back in touch with churidars and lehengas and saris and you see how far they’ve come.”

“I didn’t even realize that there are so many different ways to tie saris … I thought saris were what my grandma and my mom wear to the temple.”

But the pageant made her realize it’s “not limited.”

“There’s so much more right now that we don’t even know about — or at least that I didn’t know about,” she said.

Hiremath has spent most of her summer travelling for pageants and shows hoping to get a start on a modelling career. Her involvement in Saturday’s competition stemmed from Miss Universe Canada, where she was one of 58 finalists, but didn’t place.

“I think doing Miss Universe Canada, I didn’t have any platform to showcase my own culture, and so Miss India-Canada kind of gave me that outlet, which I like,” said Hiremath. “It’s just a platform to give the Indian community a voice.”

And although she walked away from Saturday’s contest without the crown, she plans to stay involved and still have a voice in the Indian community — in Canada or “even in India,” she said.

“Just to inspire Indian youth like me that are living here or even living back home that you can make a difference and be proud of where you’re from,” she said.

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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Miss India Canada contestant 2013


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Lavanya Hiremath. Dennis Lee Photography

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