Community News


Miss India DC 2020 Runner Up Publishes Piece on Pageant Experience

The Miss India DC Pageant is an annual pageant for women with Indian heritage in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area where they can showcase their talent and meet other people from the DMV area. This pageant is a great way to increase confidence, as well.

DCWaleDesi community member Sonia Sukumar recently spoke with publication American Kahani on her pageantry experience.

DC-Area Based Cyber Security Engineer Awarded Title of "Miss World America - Delaware 2020"

Jessica Wilson recently competed in Miss World America which is a national preliminary contest to Miss World, a major international pageant system in the world.

She represented the state of Delaware, making her Miss World America Delaware 2020. The competition consisted of many challenges in the preliminaries.

Jessica was the winner of one of the challenges called Beautiful Me. In the challenge, the contestants were given 20 minutes to complete the desired makeup look live in front of the judges.

Jessica won the challenge which placed her in the top 15 of the whole competition. She also placed top 10 in the talent segment in which she performed a Bollywood dance routine.

Jessica advocates for the underrepresentation of women in the technology and engineering workforce. As a woman of color, she faced challenges at the start of her career which led her to start her initiative, “Close the Engineering Gap.”

Women make up 15% of the engineering workforce in the US. The lack of female role models, the decline of interest among girls in STEM subjects between middle school and high school, and the pressure on novice female engineers to outperform their male counterparts all contribute to the low percentage.

Jessica wishes to increase this percentage by being a mentor to college women who need the inspiration to pursue engineering while providing hands-on engineering activities to young girls. She also works with engineering employers to ensure they have a support group for women.

She has created a kit for college female students who are pursuing a career in this field. The kit provides information about the different areas of engineering, salary negotiation strategies, technical resume building instruction, and confidence-boosting tips.

Underrepresentation and gender biases contribute to a negative work environment for women. Jessica believes that her work will inspire more women to pursue a career in technology and engineering. She strives to make this industry more welcoming for future female engineers and technology professionals.


Community Member Publishes Book on Immigration Experience

Siddarth Bindra has published a new book about the immigration experience.

Every American has an immigrant story even if it may not be their own. America is the land of immigrants but immigration patterns have changed quite drastically from Western Europe to Eastern Europe to Asia. There has not been a major immigration reform since 1986 and every law since has been made to control and stem the flow of new immigrants.

The Supreme Court just ruled on the legality of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals), yet creating no pathway to citizenship. The Dream Act has been tossed around since 2001 with no timeline and lives hanging in the balance. This story covers one such life. Following the sudden departure of his mother, Arjun finds himself stuck in America as an undocumented immigrant at the age of twelve. His father’s immigration petition has failed to put the entire family at a crossroads and in the spotlight of a DHS investigation.

Arjun must now figure out how to navigate his new reality without any clear possibility of a future in America. This story is one of many unheard voices that have spent the last few decades hidden in the shadows, fearing repercussions if they speak out, cornered with every new legislation and administration that fails to create a solution for over eleven million people.

Bansari Indian Restaurant Opens with Rave Reviews

Bansari Indian Cuisine opened a few months ago at the former site of Punjabi by Nature on the ground floor of the Avalon Dunn Loring apartment complex, adjacent to Mosaic District in Vienna. Bansari is open for limited dine-in, patio dining, takeout, delivery, and catering. The restaurant offers house specials, Tandoor specialty dishes, Indochinese food, a variety of egg dishes, refreshing beverages, and desserts.


Contestants for 2020 Miss/Mrs. India DC Pageant Announced

Miss/Mrs. India DC Pageant team has announced contestants for this year including Ajitha Srinivasan, Kavana Mallanna, Rohini Kumar, Sonia Sukumar, Harini Gomattara, Mona, Amruta Panth, Shilpi Shah and Shriya Boppana.

Northern Virginia Indian Student Launches Homemade Cupcake Business

Inspired by her long-time interests in cooking and baking, community member Nehad Javid launched her own Desi fusion cupcake business in July.

Cardamom Cupcakes, run out of Nehad’s home, currently offers ras malai, gulab jamun, jalebi, mango kulfi, rooh afza and chai flavored cupcakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. Variety packs are also available.


Aspiring dancers Anagha Sreenivas and Manvitha Janga were recently featured on urban Desi British-Bengali Mumzy Stranger’s new video for his single Habibti ft. DJ Lyan.

Anagha Sreenivas is an avid dancer, choreographer, and instructor. In 2018, she was honored with the title of Miss India DC and since then her life has changed! She has trained in Bharatanatyam and Kathak for over 10 years and completed her Arangetram. She loves exploring, choreographing, and teaching a fusion of styles, such as Bollywood, contemporary, and hip-hop.

Manvitha Janga is a dancer from Northern Virginia. She started off with Kuchipudi dance for 12 years. Over the past year, she has been trying new styles of dance. Since joining the Bollywood fusion team at Virginia Tech (Junoon), she’s been producing dance videos to songs of different genres including Bollywood, contemporary, classical, hip-hop, and more. She is also very fond of Afro music or Afrobeats.

Local community leader and deejay Darakshan Raja, also known as DJ Kiran has been featured on the Empowerment Album by the Lockdowndesi team.

The album is an all-female DJ project aiming to deliver a message of empowerment, unity, and equality!


DCWaleDesi Founder Monica Ahuja to Open Let's Groove Dance Studio

DCWaleDesi Founder Monica Ahuja opened her own dance studio on July 6, 2020 – Let’s Groove Dance Studio. The cross-genre dance studio will offer classes and workshops covering dance styles found around the world ranging from modern hip-hop to Middle Eastern belly dance led by experienced dance instructors in a relaxed, judgment-free environment.

Trained in Bharatnatyam dance in India before moving to the United States in 2008, Monica has been dancing for over a decade and considers hip hop/freestyle and Bollywood dance to be her specialty.

Local Fitness/Health Influencer Launches Brand Website

Punita Mangat, an internationally certified Health and Wellness Coach who has completed many trainings and earned many certifications, has launched her brand website –

Through the website, she hopes to further expand on her passion for health and wellness by teaching others the importance and value of holistic health.


Samaa Events by Samia was featured in Maharani Weddings in April for Anjali & Haroon’s wedding which was held at MGM National Harbor.

Samaa Events by Samia is Samia Ansari’s luxury event planning Firm. The company has been developed through her passion. The company consists of full planning, partial planning, day of coordination, destination and corporate planning. They are known to work with client budgets & exceed expectations.

Community Dancer Umi Jahan Named Senior Manager at Local Dance Studio

In early February 2020, local Bangladeshi dancer Jahan Umi was promoted to Senior Manager at local Maryland-based dance studio, Bend It Like Bollywood. In her new role, she has been managing the company’s e-mail communications, planning costumes and supporting other marketing and promotions needs.

Umi has been dancing for 8 years and she is a talented hip-hop, contemporary and traditional Bollywood dancer.


Local Wedding Planner Interviewed on Voice of America

Zartasha Chahal, a local event and wedding planner was invited to interview on VOA Urdu on February 27, 2020. She spoke with the radio host on current wedding trends in Pakistan and in the USA.

Events by Zartasha is an all-inclusive luxury event planning firm made up of passionate & creative individuals who ensure your day is magical.

Local Entrepreneurs Earn YC Funding for Clothing Rental Service

Sarina Siddhanti and Arian Agrawal (originally from the DC Metro area) who both are cofounders of clothing rental service Riya Collective were announced as members of the Y Combinator Winter 2020 batch.

Riya Collective is a clothing rental service, starting with formal Indian clothing in the US. They believe that sharing culture is one of life’s greatest joys and they exist to make that experience accessible, fun, and sustainable.

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Zind Performing Academy Launches On-Demand Online Dance Classes

Regional dance studio Zind Performing Academy has launched its online dance classes. The on-demand instructional videos offer enthusiasts the opportunity to learn Bollywood-style dance from the comfort of their homes. This first-of-its-kind initiative was launched on December 5, 2019.

Zind Performing Academy is an Indian Bollywood dance studio which exists to create, teach and perform the art of Indian dance to ages 5+ to adults. They teach individuals how to dance, step by step, to their favorite Bollywood songs from professional, enthusiastic instructors.

GMU Indian Student Invited to Speak at Amazon Conference

Dolica Gopisetty, a rising senior information technology student at George Mason University made history as being the only college student invited to speak at the “IMAGINE: A Better World, Global Education” conference that took place in Seattle, Washington on July, 11, 2019.

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Podcast Launched by Local Fashion Entrepreneur Brothers

Tanmit Singh of Rootsgear Clothing and Sumit Singh launched Yet Another Podcast – just a couple of really bored and funny guys talking about random things, with their first episode on May 23, 2019.

Community Member Launches Health & Fitness Blog

DCWaleDesi community member Sanjana Bhakta launched her blog – Whey 2 Wellness on April 28, 2019. She hopes that community members use her blog as a tool to optimize your physical and mental health.

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Local Dance Studio Wins Big at Raas Dance Championship

Bend It Like Bollywood‘s Collegiate team including DCWaleDesi community members Umi Jahan and Chanda Kumar took home the 1st Place trophy at Raas Dance Championship on April 28, 2019.

Singer Anjali Taneja Interviewed on Local Podcast

Anjali Taneja, a Washington DC-based R&B artist who weaves together Indian melodies and soulful rhythmic elements was featured on Episode 8 of GupShup with Gurpreet Sarin.

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Local Photographer's Work Selected for Exhibition

Photographer Adeel Malik‘s photo of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Dubai was selected as a finalist at the Exposed DC exhibition at Gallery Underground in Crystal City. The exhibit featured 62 photographers whose images explore how color is seen, captured, and used through photography.