DHARAMSALA: The Miss Tibet pageant, an event that helps the exiled Tibetan community draw the attention of the world to the cause of Tibet, has moved out of Dharamsala, the home of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say
Miss Tibet 2013, the 11th in the series, will be held in Bylakuppe, the largest settlement of the exiles in Karnataka, southern India from February 10 to13, 2013, the pageant’s director-producer Lobsang Wangyal told IANS.
“Since a large number of Tibetans are settled across India and they are not able to witness the event (in Dharamsala), we have decided to take the event to other towns too,” Wangyal said.
“If we get a good response in Bylakuppe, we will move to other places like Dehradun (in Uttarakhand) and Gangtok in Sikkim before returning to Dharamsala,” he said.
This year’s pageant was cancelled by the organisers following the continuing wave of self-immolations in Tibet over China’s harsh measures and their demand for the Dalai Lama’s return home from exile.
“Some 90 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese misrule in Tibet. We would like to dedicate the Miss Tibet pageant 2013 to those Tibetans,” he said. The forthcoming pageant will coincide with Losar, the first day of the Tibetan New Year.
The Miss Tibet contest started in 2002, amid mixed responses from the exiles.
Many, including the government-in-exile, opposed the pageant and held it to be against Tibetan tradition. The Miss Tibet pageant faces even Chinese’s ire, as winners participate in international pageants.
Despite that, the pageant has gained huge popularity among the exiled Tibetans.
Wangyal said the winners of the contest have represented Tibet internationally — twice winning Miss Earth in the Philippines and Miss Asia Pacific World once.
In the first Miss Tibet pageant, only four women participated. In the 2003 and 2005 editions, only one contestant turned out each year and eventually got titles unopposed.
In 2011, the pageant saw the highest number of six participants.
“Once we have a Miss Tibet,” said Wangyal, “she can speak about the Tibetan situation in various international fora.”
India is home to around 100,000 Tibetans.