Divita Rai is India's representative at the 71st edition of the Miss Universe pageant. Scheduled to air at 6.20 am IST on January 15, delegates from across the globe will be competing for the crown at the Ernest N. Moral Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, US.
Before the highly coveted pageant begins, here's five facts about the 25-year-old 'Sone Ki Chidiya' who's representing India.
Divita Rai was born in Mangaluru, Karnataka and graduated from the Sir JJ College of Architecture in Mumbai. Despite trying her hand at designing and even assisting in the set design for a film, she never gave up her Miss Universe dreams.
In 2021, she finished third at the Miss Diva Universe pageant, losing to reigning Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu. She then participated in the following year's Miss Diva 2022 pageant and won.
In several interviews, Divita Rai has highlighted several issues pertaining to women in India, including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as well as the importance of accessibility of education for girls in the country. She has also been working with India's top NGOs such as CRY, Nanhi Kali, and Teach for India.
While her National Costume was inspired by the "ethereal portrayal of India as the golden bird which is a symbol of wealth of our rich cultural heritage along with the spiritual essence of living in harmony with diversity", for the swimsuit category she wore a cape, christened Dil Se, which is an ode to love without any judgements and celebrated the LGBTQ+ community.
Last year, Harnaaz Sandhu, 21, was crowned Miss Universe at the 70th edition of the pageant. Before Harnaaz, only two Indians have won the title of Miss Universe - Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000.