Miss Universe 2021 winner: Who is Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu?

She was also crowned Miss Diva 2021 and Femina Miss India Punjab 2019



Miss Universe winner Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu. Photo: Miss Universe
Miss Universe winner Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu. Photo: Miss Universe

By Web Desk

Published: Mon 13 Dec 2021, 10:49 AM

Last updated: Mon 13 Dec 2021, 11:05 AM

Harnaaz Sandhu of India was crowned the 70th Miss Universe on Sunday, topping a field of some 80 contestants in the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat.

In the finale round, Harnaaz beat Paraguay's Nadia Ferreira and South Africa's Lalela Mswane.

Only two Indians have won the title of Miss Universe before Harnaaz Sandhu - actors Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.

The moment her name was declared as the winner, Actor-model Harnaaz Sandhu broke down with tears of joy.

In a video going viral on Twitter, Harnaaz is seen saying 'Chak de phatte, India' moments after winning the crown.

In an Instagram post, Harnaaz dedicated her journey to the world event to India saying, “India, this one’s for you.”

Who is Harnaaz Sandhu?

A Chandigarh-based model, Harnaaz Sandhu has won several beauty pageants in the past.

She has been crowned Miss Diva 2021 and Femina Miss India Punjab 2019. Harnaaz, in fact, was also placed in the Top 12 at Femina Miss India 2019.

Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, appears on stage during the national costume presentation of the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, appears on stage during the national costume presentation of the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Harnaaz Sandhu has also worked in Punjabi films such as Yaara Diyan Poo Baran and Bai Ji Kuttange. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Public Administration.

In her spare time, Harnaaz enjoys the company of friends, loves yoga, dancing, cooking, horse riding, and playing chess.

She is a water baby and never misses a chance to jump into a pool to rejuvenate herself. She believes in the saying - “Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful."

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Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, appears on stage during the national costume presentation of the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, appears on stage during the national costume presentation of the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Harnaaz’s inspiration

Harnaaz draws her inspiration from her mother, who broke generations of patriarchy to become a successful gynecologist and led her family.

Driven to support other women the same way, Harnaaz grew up working with her mother at health camps addressing women's health and menstrual hygiene.

Deeply conscious of the privilege her mother's struggles have gifted her, Harnaaz today is a strong advocate for women's empowerment, particularly their constitutional rights to education, careers, and their freedom of choice.

Her favorite actor is Priyanka Chopra (former Miss World 2000), and she draws inspiration from her body of work.

Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, appears on stage during the national costume presentation of the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
Miss India, Harnaaz Sandhu, appears on stage during the national costume presentation of the 70th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Israel's southern Red Sea coastal city of Eilat on December 10, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Fun facts about the new Miss Universe

  • She can mimic almost anyone including animals
  • She is a closet singer
  • She loves writing couplets in her mother tongue Punjabi

The pageant

The previously reigning Miss Universe, Andrea Meza of Mexico, crowned her successor.

The pageant was held in the middle of the night, wrapping up at 5 a.m. local time (10 p.m. EST) to accommodate the primetime schedule in the U.S.

The pageant included traditional displays of national costumes, evening gowns and swimwear, as well as a series of interview questions to test contestants’ public speaking skills.

Omicron threat

The contest also suffered a last-minute hiccup with the arrival of the omicron variant, which forced Israel to close its borders to foreign tourists late last month.

Most of the Miss Universe contestants were already in the country before the new regulations came into effect. But those who came afterward were given special permission to enter, albeit with a mandatory 72-hour quarantine period.

Throughout the run-up to Sunday’s contest, all contestants were tested for the coronavirus every 48 hours and required to obey strict mask requirements.

Last year’s pageant was delayed due to the pandemic before Meza was crowned in May for her abbreviated tenure.

Sunday’s contest was hosted by U.S. TV personality Steve Harvey. Organizers said the pageant was expected to reach an estimated 600 million viewers via the FOX network in 172 countries.


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