Reita Faria Won India's First Miss World Title This Day in 1966
The first Indian woman who bagged the Miss World title was Reita Faria. On November 17 in 1966, Reita won the coveted title in the 16th edition of the pageant held at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, United Kingdom. She beat 51 other candidates to win this title.
Reita was a 23-year-old medical student when she won the crown for India. She hailed from the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) in Maharashtra and her parents were Goan. It is also said that she was the first Indian woman to have worn a swimsuit for a beauty contest.
Apart from the celebrated Miss World title, Reita also received ‘Best Swimsuit’ and ‘Best Eveningwear’ during the pageant. She had worn a saree for eveningwear. A clip from the competition held in 1966 shows Reita wearing a swimsuit along with other contestants for the swimsuit round of the pageant.
She was the first Asian woman ever to win the title. Reita did not take up any modelling or film assignments after winning the title and instead continued with her studies.
She is said to have used her prize money to fund her studies because she wanted to become a gynaecologist. Reita went to further study medicine at King’s College Hospital, London. There she met her future husband, David Powell who was her mentor at that time.
Reita and David married in 1971 and have two children together and five grandchildren. The couple lives in Dublin, Ireland. Since winning her title, Reita has appeared as a judge on the Miss World pageant in 1976 and has also reportedly judged Femina Miss India once.
She had entered Eve's Weekly Miss India contest in 1966 which paved her way to contest for the Miss World India. It is said that she participated in the contest as a joke but then went to win the title.
She became the first Miss World to be qualified as a physician.