Photograph: Suvo Das
From dreaming of becoming an architect and working in the corporate field to switching to modelling and going on to win the title of Healthntrends Miss Grand India 2020, Manika Sheokand has always had a hunger for success. Life clearly has some huge plans in store for her, too. She tells us how she navigated through choices and summoned the courage to take challenges head on.
What drove you to participate in Healthntrends Miss India?
It was a very gradual process of realising that I wanted to enter Healthntrends Miss India. I worked as a marketing manager, but I just felt like there was something more out there for me, and that that corporate job wasn’t exactly what I wanted. That thought led me to pursue modelling. Immediately after, COVID-19 happened, and we went into lockdown. But then, the Healthntrends Miss India forms came out, and I applied.
“When I was in junior college, I used to tell my family that they didn’t have to worry, because I’d just build their houses in the most beautiful manner.” – Manika Sheokand
What did you aspire to be growing up?
I aspired to be an architect and I always dreamed of building concrete houses. When I was in junior college, I used to tell my family that they didn’t have to worry, because I’d just build their houses in the most beautiful manner.
What has it been like to prep for a pageant like Healthntrends Miss India during a pandemic?
The experience was one of a kind; we’ve never seen something like this before. Due to the pandemic, the pageant had to happen virtually; it was a first-time experience. The challenges included figuring out how to get things done with the camera, how to record videos, how to deliver a speech, videos, photographs, and the like. It was chaotic initially (but fun, too), but my family was with me, and helped me set up the whole house for my video content. They were a huge help, and made me feel better about participating from home. After all the tasks for the pageant were done, I could just go to my bed and relax, eat home food, and lie in my mother’s lap.
“Yoga helped calm me down; it also made me see that it was a phase that would pass. That there would be new ways to navigate through life.” – Manika Sheokand
Mental health is something we all need to pay attention to. How have you been taking care of yourself?
I absolutely agree with you. Sometimes we don’t even realise that we are feeling anxious and it can take a huge toll on our health. But it depends on us – how we take care of our minds and our health. During lockdown, I turned to yoga and meditation. The stress did get to me, because I had just quit my job to get into modelling, and, then, the pandemic happened and there weren’t any shoots happening. Yoga helped calm me down; it also made me see that it was a phase that would pass. That there would be new ways to navigate through life.
Has this pageant been a unique experience for you?
It has been unique in many ways because I never before thought that I, a chemical engineer who was also an introvert and someone who never wore much makeup, would suddenly model and go on to win the title of Healthntrends Miss Grand India 2020. It was a wild thought at first. I never thought I had the courage to take such bold decisions before, but it happened.
“No matter how many people try to teach you or advise you, at the end of the day, you’re going to listen to yourself. I’ve learned to listen to my gut feeling.” – Manika Sheokand
What has been your biggest lesson from the Healthntrends Miss India journey?
I have learned that you are your own teacher. No matter how many people try to teach you or advise you, at the end of the day, you’re going to listen to yourself. I’ve learned to listen to my gut feeling. I’ve learnt not to be scared. It’s going to be risky, but it’s also going to be worth it.
Favourite memories of the pageant?
I’m not a trained dancer, and it’s been years since I’ve had any training, so, I used to enjoy the dance rehearsals a lot. One of my fondest memories is dancing with all the finalists.
Who do you look up to the most?
I would say Priyanka Chopra, because, when I was preparing myself for the pageant, I watched many of her videos. She is a strong woman who continues to inspire so many young girls and women in India and abroad.
“I want both the people and our government to be more environmentally friendly. I want to enable ways wherein the general public can practise being more eco conscious.” – Manika Sheokand
If you could bring about one change in the country, what would it be?
I want both the people and our government to be more environmentally friendly. I want to enable ways wherein the general public can practise being more eco conscious. Such practices should be promoted, and people educated about them as well. I would like to be someone who initiates these changes.
Also read: Healthntrends Miss India World 2020 Manasa Varanasi On Her Dreams & Achievements