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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Far away from Tibet, a beauty pageant begins

October 12, 2007

By IANS

Wednesday October 10, 11:04 AM

Dharamsala, Oct 10 (IANS) It's glamour time again in this Himalayan
abode of Tibetan spiritual and temporal head, the Dalai Lama, and
Hollywood stars like Richard Gere and Goldie Hawn have nothing to do
with it!

The sixth edition of the Miss Tibet beauty pageant, being held against
the backdrop of the imposing Dhauladhar range, will announce a winner
Oct 14.

The spirit of the pageant and its organisers is not dimmed by the low
turnout of the contestants or even the fact that they have to hold the
contest in exile - thousands of kilometres away from their homeland
Tibet, which they say is under Chinese occupation.

Not getting patronage from the Tibetan government-in-exile or support
from Tibetan organisations struggling for Tibet's independence has also
not come in the way of holding the contest.

Five lovely Tibetan girls - one of them having just completed schooling
in the southern state of Karnataka - are vying for the title this year.
The number of contestants is one less than the six who participated in
2006. But the figure is still better than the hopeless situation of
having just one contestant in 2003 and 2005.

But the chief organiser of the pageant, Lobsang Wangyal, is upbeat about
the event this time.

'Tibetan people are very traditional. We also do not live in our own
country. Some people think that we are harming the traditional Tibetan
culture. There are all kinds of doubts. But that is not the case. The
participation of last year's Miss Tibet contest winner in the Miss Earth
contest in Manila gave a lot of recognition to our contest,' Lobsang
told IANS.

The contest has been labelled as 'un-Tibetan' and 'copying of bad and
cheap things from the West' but that has not discouraged Lobsang and
other organisers. The exiled government does not support the pageant but
it has not imposed any ban on it either.

The pageant was launched in 2002 with four contestants and had Dolma
Tsering as its first winner. - Enthused by the response from the people
and the media , the organisers have even made the swimsuit round open
for the public. This year, 10 Tibetan girls applied for the contest but
only five came for it. They will go through weeklong training followed
by seven rounds of contest.

All contestants this time - Deeki Dolma, Tenzin Dolma, Tenzin Pema,
Tenzing Dolma and Tsering Yangzom - are between 19 and 25 years of age.
Some are students while a couple of them are working as well.

Yangzom has just completed her schooling and hails from the Tibetan
settlement of Kollegal in southern state of Karnataka. Others are from
Gangtok, Dehradun, Dharamsala and New Delhi.

'The number of hits that we get on the misstibet.com website shows its
global popularity. Ours is a private event and like the Miss Universe,
Miss World and Miss India, we don't need the patronage of the exiled
government. I know that the government and some others are against the
pageant,' Lobsang pointed out.

In 2003 and 2005, Tsering Kyi and Tenzin Nyima were the only contestants
and were declared winners. Kyi even met Prince Charles during his visit
to the Tibetan settlement in New Delhi in October 2003.

'My participation in the contest is to encourage Tibetan women to come
forward and express themselves,' 19-year-old Tenzin Pema from New Delhi
said.

'I want to represent Tibet at the international level through this
contest,' said another contestant Deeki Dolma from Gangtok in Sikkim.

But others like firebrand Tibetan independence leader Tenzin Tsundue are
against the pageant.

'No one can deny history. To be modern one can move forward by
modernising one's own traditional culture. The Miss Tibet beauty pageant
is a photocopy of Western culture and it's a poor and cheap attempt to
claim modernity. Lobsang's film festival, however, is a commendable
programme. We can use our brains in a better way to internationalise the
Tibet issue,' Tsundue told IANS.

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