We should follow our traditions as they are our identity, but the sacrifice of innocent animals in name of religion and tradition should stop.”

This was the winning answer that clinched the title for Sitashma Chand, who was crowned Dabur Vatika Miss Nepal 2007 on April 7.

Her answer to Kollywood superstar Rajesh Hamal’s question — are all traditions to be followed without any questions, or should those be discussed and amended with time — earned this 23-year-old not only the crown but also a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh and a Kinetic Nova.

Bandana Sharma and Shweta Shah were crowned first and second runners-up winning cash prizes of Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively.

Though the roads leading to the Birendra International Convention Centre (BICC) were packed with those protesting the pageant, the event began on time. Kudos to the organisers. Even the dark sky and damp weather did not prevent the stars of the evening from shinning bright.

The 19 Miss Nepal finalists strode up the stage with oodles of confidence and grace. Striking the perfect pose and flashing their bright smiles, all managed to win the hearts of those gathered.

The evening started with the ethnic wear round and saw the participants attired in traditional and ethnic dresses and walk to the track Mero Nepal by Raju Lama. The round was vibrant as well as varied with the contestants dressed in the traditional attire of 18 groups. This probably represented well the cultural diversity of our nation.

The top 10 contestants were declared during the Saree round. The names had been finalised during the pre-judging round held on April 4. The Blay Miss Best Walk was also judged during this round.

The top five contestants, who were to make it to the final round, were chosen on the basis of answers given to questions asked by the panel of judges. Shweta Shah, Sitashma Chand, Babita Manandhar, Bibha Prajapati and Bandana Sharma made it to the final round, that saw the contestants shimmering and sizzling in the evening gowns designed by Mehr Collection.

Performances by various artistes added the glamour and entertainment factor to the event. Actress Usha Poudel performed a dance to the number Shanti Bhaye Pugcha hugely entertaining the audience. A medley performed by Nalina Chitrakar, Cine Gurung, Juna Prasai, Mingma Sherpa, Saroj Dutta and Rajan Ishan was also well received, as well as their group song Awaz composed by Ishan.

Sitashma will be representing Nepal in the Miss World pageant, while Bandana will go on particpate in Miss Asia Pacific and Shweta in Miss Earth pageants.

Dabur Vatika Miss Nepal 2007 was organised by Hidden Treasure in association with Kathmandu JCI, with Annapurna Post as the official print media and Hyatt Regency as the official hotel. The pageant was aired live on Nepal Television.