Days after Manya Singh won the Miss India 2020 runner-up crown, she was felicitated at her alma mater - the Thakur College of Science and Commerce – on her homecoming as her proud father rode her to the college in an autorickshaw in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old's father Omprakash led a rally of 18 autorickshaws for the one kilometer stretch as part of the celebrations.
Today when I was driving the auto, there was this uncontrollable happiness. I was trying hard not to cry. I remembered how I would sometimes drop her at her college. Today, I was taking her with the crown on her head. I feel I've got my life's worth of happiness," Omprakash, an autorickshaw driver, told PTI in an interview.
Students and teachers at the Thakur College of Science and Commerce broke into applause as the family reached the campus.
Amid the chants of "we are proud of you Manya" from students and peers, Manya made her parents wear her Miss India crown as a symbolic acknowledgment of their hard work behind her win.
It was the same stretch where Omprakash used to wait for the passengers. However, this time around, people stopped to see the jubilation as they saw autorickshaw cavalcade with placards.
At the college, Manya Singh’s mother Manorama, a housewife-turned-beautician, kept fighting her tears throughout the event.
"I am fortunate to have a daughter like Manya. She struggled hard, day and night, to achieve her dream. We stood by her and gave it our all. Back then, it did look out of reach. But she did it. Now, I hope all parents encourage their daughters to touch the sky. Please support your daughters, so that they continue to dream," Manorama said after the rally.
At this year's Femina Miss India 2020 beauty pageant, Manya Singh went on to become Miss India 2020 runner-up. Manya's inspirational story of childhood struggle and being an autorickshaw driver's daughter to landing the coveted crown, took the internet by storm.
Hailing from a humble background, Manya Omprakash Singh was born in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh. Frustrated with the limited opportunities in her village, she ran away from home to Mumbai at the age of 14. In Mumbai, she funded her education by managing two jobs at a pizza joint and a call center.