The inaugural Miss Bollywood Northern Ireland competition took place last weekend, bringing a spectacular array of exotic colour and style to the Ramada Hotel at Shaw's Bridge.
Aspiring models from across Northern Ireland, from both Irish and Asian backgrounds, were given a total make-over by professional stylists who specialise in the fabulously ornate styling of India.
As a catwalk correspondent I get invited to a lot of fashion shows and here I was delighted to have been given pride of place at the very front, on the judging panel.
Naturally I wanted to look the part, so before setting out I decided to try on the beautiful black and gold silk sari I had bought last year at the Botanic Garden Mela festival.
It certainly wasn't easy getting it to look and hang right, so after numerous failed attempts I consulted the internet and there, on YouTube, was a step-by-step film of how to do it in the authentic traditional way.
So after much pausing and rewinding followed by wrapping, tugging, tucking, folding, pleating and pinning, I finally managed to master the art. It's certainly not easy, but it was really worth doing right as I don't remember ever feeling quite so exotic or glamorous before in my life!
When I finally arrived I was so glad I had made the effort. As part of their prize, finalists were treated to a professional photo shoot complete with hair, make-up and Bollywood costume as well as a chance to win a share in over £2,000 in prizes and the Miss Bollywood Northern Ireland 2012 title. Needless to say, the effect was incredible, with every girl looking as spectacular as Shilpa Shetty and alluring as Ashwarya Rai.
This unique and exclusive competition was specially created and arranged by one Tyrone family to raise funds to build a home in India for babies abandoned by their families because of their sex. Every day in India 2,000 foetuses are killed simply because they are female, while even more children are abandoned at churches, hospitals, over-crowded orphanages or simply in the street.
Portadown couple Nelson and Janet Thomas-Raja — who were made aware of the problem when they adopted their daughter Phoebe from such an orphanage — are aiming to establish Angel House, a live-in safe haven for abandoned children as just one part of a wider project to help children and mothers in India.
The action-packed show, which was hosted by the beautiful model and TV presenter Katie Larmour, and attended by Lord Diljit and Lady Rana, included a display by Bollywood-style dancers, fire eaters, a charity auction, a catwalk show from the finalists and, of course, the crowning of Miss Bollywood NI 2012.
The overall winner of the evening was the statuesque Belfast beauty Kausalyaa Soma, who is of Indian descent but is now living and working in Northern Ireland.
As one of the five judges, I knew straight away that she was my winner and, fortunately, the others all agreed. Not only was she stunningly beautiful, elegant and graceful with a figure to die for, but she spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about the event, its organisers and the charity as a whole.
This was a fabulously exotic night and the most colourful and opulent catwalk show I've seen while living in Northern Ireland. I felt so honoured to have been a part of it and wish Nelson, Janet and their lovely family all the best of luck and love in their mercy mission to help all those poor children and their heartbroken mothers in India.
For more information on the charity and to contribute towards their cause, email@example.com