Middle-aged mommies turned models and young girls got a makeover at Miss and Mrs. Madurai beauty contest
Over a dozen women chinned up for a touch of blush, loads of lipstick, misty mascaras and a hair do. The posh lobby at a city star hotel was abuzz with beauticians offering final touches and anxious and aspiring contestants rehearsing. Finally, when women in glittering saris and chic outfits cat walked the ramp, it was like a slice of Mumbai in Madurai. The Naturals Miss and Mrs Madurai beauty contest left many wonder if the pilgrim town was finally taking to fashion and style as well.
Organized for the time in this conservative city, the event was an opportunity for many city women to showcase their talent and fashion sense. Enthusiastic collegians and married women took to the stage while their fathers and husbands cheered them. “We have been conducting the contest for 13 years in Chennai and this is the first time, we have branched out to smaller town in search of beauty and talent among women,” said Poornima Kumar, one of the partners at Virgo Events. “We got over 125 enquiries. Eight participants in both the categories were shortlisted for the final round.”
It was a dream-come-true moment for Poornima when she won the ‘Mrs. Madurai’ title. “I was really not prepared and didn’t expect this. I am excited,” she said after being crowned Mrs.Madurai. Her husband Venkatesh too was high with happiness. “I am extremely thrilled. She is beautiful and I knew she would make it. I feel proud of her ,” said Venkatesh. Added Poornima’s mother-in-law, Kamalam Rajendran, “Women should not be restricted. As a mother-in-law I encouraged Poornima and we will equip her for the next level.”
The runner-up in the Mrs category was Nimisha, a Hyderabadi who moved to Madurai three years back. “It was only because of the encouragement I got from my husband,” said Nimisha. While, Siddharth, her husband owed it to her good looks. “I wanted her to win as she’s pretty. I find Madurai is slowly changing.”
Apart from beauty, confidence, communication skills, talents and knowledge were also taken into consideration. Sujatha of Uttara boutique, one of the judges said , “ This is a good start. Beauty contest is a check for women to know where they stand. It’s also a break from the routine for married women.”
Latha Krishnan of Virgo events feels Madurai compared to other towns like Tiruchi and Coimbatore is still slow in coming out. “Women here are shyer and they don’t want to promote themselves. But, I appreciate the husbands who allowed their wives to participate.”
Vasuki, a homemaker let both her daughters participate and Sharanya, the younger one was declared the Miss Madurai runner-up. Vasuki says, “I am a liberal mother. and would like to push my daughters in all ways possible.” As a Madurai-bred girl, Sharanya says had she not been to Hyderabad for job, it would have been different for her. “Three years in a big city has changed my outlook. I think more such contests will help change the mindset of small town people.” .
“Miss Madurai’ winner Dolly Barwani said , “I am essentially a Madurai girl, though I am a North Indian. My friends and family supported me to take part in the contest.” As an engineering student in a city college she feels that beauty contests should be held in colleges more often to discover hidden talents in young women.
Apart from the fashion show, a cookery contest was also organized, in which participants showcased chicken recipes made at home. Sheela Devi, won the contest for chicken bhujia. At 40, Sheela, a government school headmistress believes that beauty should be celebrated. “Every woman is beautiful and there is nothing wrong in appreciating it,” she says. “These contests help to boost confidence levels in women.”
The contest is being conducted in Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Chennai apart from Madurai. The finalists from all four cities will compete at the Grand finale in Chennai for Miss and Mrs Tamil Nadu title on November 3. Proceeds from the show will go for underprivileged girl children at Sankalp, a Chennai-based NGO. The Hindu was the media partner for the event.