First Woman Miss World of India
Reita Faria Powell, born on 23rd August 1943, in Mumbai, India, is a remarkable woman known for her ground-breaking achievements in both the world of beauty pageants and the field of medicine. She made history as the first Indian and the first physician to win the Miss World title in 1966, breaking and setting an inspiring example for women around the world.
Early Life and Challenges
Birth date: 23rd August 1943
Birth place: Mumbai, India
Reita Faria was born into a middle-class Goan Catholic family in Mumbai. Her parents, John and Antoinette, instilled in her the values of hard work and determination. Despite facing challenges, such as being teased for her height, Reita used her tall and lean frame to excel in sports, particularly hockey, where she gained recognition for her hat-trick performances.
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Career in Modeling
Reita’s journey to the Miss World crown began when she won the Miss Bombay Crown. Her victory paved the way for her participation in the Eve’s Weekly Miss India contest in 1966, where she emerged as the winner. This win catapulted her onto the international stage, representing India at the Miss World 1966 pageant.
Miss World 1966
During the Miss World 1966 competition, Reita Faria made a mark by winning the sub-titles ‘Best in Swimsuit’ and ‘Best in Eveningwear,’ the later for her elegant appearance in a saree. Her grace, intelligence and striking beauty left a lasting impression on the judges and audience alike. In a historic moment, Reita Faria was crowned Miss World, becoming the first Indian to achieve this prestigious title.
A Choice Between Stardom and Medicine
After her triumphant reign as Miss World, Reita Faria faced a critical decision. She received numerous lucrative offers for modeling and acting in films, but she chose a different path. Rather than pursuing a glamorous career in entertainment, she committed to her passion for medicine. Reita enrolled at the Grant Medical College & Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals, where she earned her M.B.B.S. degree.
Continuing her pursuit of medical excellence, Reita went on to study at King’s College Hospital in London, England. Her dedication to her education was unwavering and in 1971, she married her mentor, Dr. David Powell, an endocrinologist. The couple later moved to Dublin, Ireland, where Reita began her medical practice, demonstrating that her commitment to healthcare was as strong as her dedication to winning the Miss World Crown.
Legacy and Contributions
Reita’s remarkable journey also included serving as a judge at the Femina Miss India competition in 1998 and returning to judge the Miss World competition on several occasions. Her participation in the Miss World 1976 judging panel, alongside Demis Roussos, witnessed the crowning of Cindy Breakespeare as Miss World.