Jacinta Lal, 21, has cause an uproar in tiny New Zealand after critics claimed she was too white to compete in a Miss India contest. She finished second runner up.
Lal is a blue-eyed blonde, but her father is a full-blooded Fijian Indian; her mother is a white New Zealander.
Protests erupted after she won a preliminary round representing the Wellington area of the tiny island nation.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. New Zealand is in a row with India over alleged racial slurs by popular Kiwi TV host Paul Henry.
The Indian government filed an official protest over his remarks.
Lal told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that she had heard people say she was not “Indian-looking enough to win the pageant,” according to London’s Daily Mail.
“But despite those small-minded people that made those comments, there were many Indians who encouraged me to enter,” she said.
Lal called the protesters “narrow minded.”
Organizer Dharmesh Parikh said complaints arose with Lal made the MissIndiaNZ finals in Auckland in August and became one of two runners-up in the contest.
‘People said: “Oh my God look at this blonde girl coming to Miss IndiaNZ, what is she doing here?,” he said.
“Whoever these people are, they are a very small part of it.”
Parikh said the contestants only have to have New Zealand residency, New Zealand citizenship and some sort of Indian background.
“It is a little bit sad, but it is unfortunate for Jacinta as well because she should be accepted into this Indian world as well because she is a beautiful Indian girl.”