51 Years Before Manushi, Reita Faria Was India’s First Miss World

Reita Faria was India’s first ever Miss World in 1966, taking the world by storm and inspiring millions.
Shibaji Roychoudhury
In 1966, the world saw Reita Faria get crowned as India’s first Miss World. (Photo Courtesy: British Pathé)
In 1966, the world saw Reita Faria get crowned as India’s first Miss World. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HM0uANcaanI">British Pathé</a>)

(The story was originally published on 7 July 2015. It is being republished after Manushi Chhillar was crowned Miss World 2017 on Saturday, 18 November.)

It was 1966. One woman strode out on to the ramp in a swimsuit – effectively putting India on the world map.

This was Dr Reita Faria, India’s – nay, Asia’s first ever Miss World who changed a little bit of fashion history forever.

Take a look at this rare video of Reita Faria walking the ramp at the 1966 Miss World pageant below.

A Profile of India’s First Diva

Born and raised in Mumbai, Reita grew up with her sister Philomena in a tight-knit Goan family that owned real estate and other businesses.

At the time that Reita took the world by storm, it was evident that she was much, much more than a beauty pageant winner. She could have gone on to become an actress, pursue a life of glitz and glamour – any number of conventional pursuits.

But none of these for Reita. Spurning the life of the diva, she committed herself to the study of medicine and eventually, to the bringing up of her two daughters.

Newly wed Reita Faria with her husband Dr David Powell (Photo Courtesy: Reita Faria)

Faria went on to marry an Irishman – Dr David Powell – and moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1971 where she still continues to reside. At present, she is a granny of five!

At the age of 60, Reita Faria at her home in Dublin with the Miss World 1966 trophy in 2006. (Photo Courtesy: Reita Faria)
A recent picture Reita Faria Powell with her husband Dr David Powell and grandsons. (Photo Courtesy: Flickr.com/Eddie Fernandes)

Model by Accident

Ever since her childhood, Faria wanted to help people in some way or the other. A career in medicine, therefore, right after she had finished school, was the natural choice for her.

A woman who truly epitomised the adage ‘beauty with brains’, Faria always claimed that it was her friends who had insisted she enter the competition. And while she only participated for fun, she ended up winning the “Miss World” title.

Reita Faria get crowned as India’s first Miss World. (Photo Courtesy: British Pathé)

Reita Faria was flooded with modelling and movie offers after she won the Miss World title in 1966. She stuck to her guns, however, and completed her MBBS – eventually becoming the doctor she had always wanted to be.

Today, there are few women who would hold a candle to this vintage beauty – India’s first crown diva.

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Published: 07 Jul 2015,02:26 PM IST