Sunday, April 29, 2012
Miss Universe 12.5.2000
Miss Universe 2000, the 49th Miss Universe pageant was held at Eleftheria Stadium, Nicosia, Cyprus on May 12, 2000. 79 delegates from around the universe competed for the crown. At the conclusion of the final night, Lara Dutta of India, aged 22, was crowned as the new Miss Universe 2000 by Miss Universe 1999, Mpule Kwelagobe of Botswana. Being the mythological birthplace of Aphrodite (featured on the stamp), the Greek goddess of beauty, and alluding to the Judgement of Paris, the organizers presented a golden apple as a prize to the pageant's winner.
The final competition at the Eleftheria Stadium featured a stage set reproducing the ancient Curium Amphitheatre. It was hosted by American comic Sinbad, with entertainment by Elvis Crespo, Montell Jordan, saxophonist David Koz and Cypriot international star Anna Vissi. The event was held at daybreak in Cyprus so that it could be televised live during the prime-time viewing period in the United States.
The pageant was marked by certain political issues relating to the contestants. Turkey did not send a delegate to the pageant for the first time in thirteen years because of its relations with Cyprus; the Lebanese and Israeli delegates refused to speak to each other; and Corrinne Crewe of Zimbabwe had to deal with the threat of escalating violence in her country. There were also protests from religious and feminist groups on the island who claimed the event was un-Christian and an affront to women. The three finalists, Miss India, Miss Venezuela, and Miss Spain, were asked to respond to these protests and convince people that beauty pageants were good. Lara Dutta of India, aged 22, the winner of the competition, responded by saying she believed beauty pageants were a platform for women to voice their opinions and help them enter the field they wanted to enter, be it entrepreneurship, the armed forces, politics, and so forth. She also said beauty pageants made women the strong, independent individuals they are today because of all the help they give women. This spectacular answer to a difficult question completely impressed the judges and entire audience, showing Lara was not only gorgeous but a highly intellectual individual as well. This answer is believed to have greatly contributed to her victory.
That same year, two other Miss India contestants, Priyanka Chopra and Dia Mirza, won the Miss World 2000 and Miss Asia Pacific 2000 titles respectively. This was the second time a country had won all three major international beauty pageants in the same year, the first being Australia in 1972. This delightful miniature sheet was given to me by dear friend Merja.