Reita Faria: First Miss World From India (Miss World 1966)


Reita Faria may not be a household name in India, but she is a remarkable woman who has left an indelible mark on history. In 1966, she became the first Indian and the first Asian woman to win the prestigious Miss World title, beating 51 other contestants from around the world. What sets her apart from the rest is not just her beauty and intelligence but also her unwavering commitment to her dream of becoming a doctor. This blog explores the extraordinary journey of first Miss World from India- Reita Faria, her groundbreaking achievements, and her enduring legacy.

Early Life and Education

Reita Faria’s journey began in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, where she was born on August 23, 1943, to Goan Catholic parents. Her dad had a job at a place where they made bottled mineral water, and her mom owned and ran a beauty salon. Reita’s middle-class upbringing laid the foundation for her future endeavors. She exhibited excellence not only in academics but also in sports, excelling in hockey, badminton, and netball. Yet, her true passion lay in medicine, a dream she nurtured since childhood.

Reita pursued her education at St. Joseph’s Convent School, Mumbai, before enrolling in Grant Medical College & Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals to study medicine. She was a meritorious student who also had a flair for fashion and dressing.

The Beauty Pageant Journey

Reita’s unexpected entry into the world of beauty pageants kick-started her journey to global recognition. In 1966, she participated in the Miss Bombay contest, which she won, propelling her into the spotlight. This victory led her to the Eve’s Weekly Miss India contest, where she outshone her competitors and emerged as the winner. Her next stop was the Miss World 1966 competition in London.

Reita Faria’s presence on the Miss World stage was nothing short of a revelation. She impressed judges and captivated the audience with her intelligence, grace, and confidence. But it was her choice of attire during the evening gown round that made her stand out; she wore a saree, a bold and unconventional choice at the time. Reita not only won the crown but also earned the sub-titles of ‘Best in Swimsuit’ and ‘Best in Eveningwear.’

On November 17, 1966, at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, Reita Faria created history by becoming the first Asian woman and the first Indian to win the coveted Miss World title. Her victory was met with cheers, applause, and the admiration of celebrities like Bob Hope and Roger Moore.

Choosing Medicine Over Glamour

After her triumph at Miss World, this first Miss World from India was inundated with offers to pursue a career in modeling and acting, opportunities that many would have eagerly embraced. However, Reita’s unwavering commitment to her childhood dream set her apart. She declined these offers and decided to prioritize her medical studies.

Reita earned her M.B.B.S. degree at Grant Medical College & Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals in Bombay, and later continued her studies at King’s College Hospital in London. In 1971, this first Miss World from India married her mentor, David Powell, an endocrinologist, and the couple moved to Dublin, Ireland, where she started her medical practice. This marked the beginning of a fulfilling life that also included raising their two daughters, Deirdre and Ann Marie.

Her Return to the World of Beauty Pageants

Reita Faria’s story doesn’t end with her Miss World victory. This first Miss World from India continued to have a presence in the world of beauty pageants. She served as a judge at various competitions, including Femina Miss India in 1998 and the Miss World pageant in 1976. Her return to the pageant scene was a testament to her enduring commitment to inspiring young women and promoting excellence in various fields.

Social and Charity Work of First Miss World From India

While this first Miss World from India’s journey from Miss World to a qualified physician is awe-inspiring in itself, what truly sets her apart is her dedication to social and charity work. During her reign as Miss World, she had the opportunity to travel to different countries and engage in various events and causes. One of her most memorable visits was to Vietnam during the Vietnam War, where she celebrated Christmas with American soldiers stationed there, alongside British-American actor and comedian Bob Hope.

This act of compassion was not without controversy, as the Indian government supported the communist regime at the time. Despite criticism and threats, this first Miss World from India defended her decision, emphasizing that her visit was humanitarian, not political. She saw the war as a tragedy and hoped for peace and reconciliation.

this first Miss World from India’s compassion extended to other war-torn or impoverished regions as well, such as Nigeria, where she witnessed the devastating effects of famine and malnutrition on children. Throughout her reign as Miss World, she leveraged her fame and influence to raise awareness and funds for various causes, including education, health, women’s empowerment, and cultural exchange.

Life Beyond the Crown

Reita Faria’s commitment to social and charitable causes did not wane after her tenure as Miss World. In the years that followed, she remained actively involved in various organizations and initiatives dedicated to improving the lives of those in need. This first Miss World from India became a patron of the Irish Cancer Society, a trustee of the Hope Foundation (which works for street children in Kolkata), and a supporter of the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Recognition and Awards

Reita Faria’s contributions and achievements have not gone unnoticed. This first Miss World from India has received numerous awards and honors that celebrate her outstanding work and dedication. In 1967, she was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honor. In 2000, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the All India Association of Medical Social Workers, recognizing her exceptional service in the medical field. In 2006, she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Eve’s Weekly magazine, further acknowledging her enduring legacy.

A Living Inspiration

Reita Faria’s life is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and the pursuit of one’s true passion. This first Miss World from India broke stereotypes and barriers in a time when the world had limited expectations for women, especially in the fields of medicine and beauty pageants. Her story is an inspiration for many young women who aspire to achieve their dreams in different domains, undeterred by societal expectations.

Reita Faria’s journey from a middle-class Indian family to the global stage as Miss World, and then back to her medical career, reflects the depth of her character and the strength of her values. This first Miss World from India is a living example of beauty with a purpose, a woman who has balanced her personal and professional life with grace and dignity.

Legacy and Impact

Reita Faria’s legacy extends beyond her historic Miss World victory. This first Miss World from India’s pioneering achievements have paved the way for other Indian women to shine on the global stage. Following her, four more Indian women have claimed the Miss World title: Aishwarya Rai (1994), Diana Hayden (1997), Yukta Mookhey (1999), Priyanka Chopra (2000) and Manushi Chhillar (2017). These women have gone on to make significant contributions in fields such as cinema, social work, entrepreneurship, and entertainment, carrying Reita Faria’s legacy forward.


Reita Faria may not be a household name, but her story is one of courage, determination, and unwavering commitment to one’s dreams. She is a pioneer who broke barriers and proved that beauty and brains can go hand in hand. This first Miss World from India’s remarkable journey from Miss World to a successful medical career is a testament to the power of following one’s passion and excelling in multiple domains.

Reita Faria’s life is a source of inspiration for countless young women who aspire to achieve excellence in their chosen fields while making a positive difference in the world. This first Miss World from India is a woman of substance, deserving of our utmost respect and admiration. Her legacy will continue to inspire future generations to reach for the stars, guided by their dreams and unwavering determination. Reita Faria’s name may not be familiar to all, but her impact on the world is undeniable, making her a true legend in her own right.

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