Dharamsala’s Tibetan beauty pageant caught in religion vs publicity tussle

November 14th, 2007 - 2:05 am ICT by admin  
Supporters of the beauty contest say that the event can prove to be an international platform to stage the problems that Tibet is facing, while religious heads of Tibet, who accept this argument, maintain that these contests are against the Buddhist principles.

“The world is changing and so are the people. These beauty pageants are a part of the changing world. What I feel is that the beauty contest can address various issues of Tibet, it can be good,” said Tsering Phuntsok, Minister of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan Government-In-Exile.

However, he added that such beauty pageants are not the only way to solve the problems, which Tibet is facing.

He urged the participants to propagate Tibetan cultural values, address environmental issues and to bring to light a way to approach Dalai Lama on an international platform.

Meanwhile, the contestants vying for the Miss Tibet 2007 crown are undertaking a training programme of interactions, dance, yoga, catwalk and orientation of the Tibetan culture, current affairs, environmental issues, music and human rights before the contest begins.

“I am getting a new experience here about new things. I will continue these things all my life,” said Deeki Dolma, one of the five contestants.

The Miss Tibet beauty pageant, in its sixth year, is held in the small town of McLeodganj that attracts only a handful of contestants but plenty of controversy.

Lobsang Wangyal Productions started the pageant in 2002 when a majority of the four short listed girls backed out after facing flak from community leaders.

The pageant has survived through the years, at times witnessing only a single participant.

Often the contest ruffles low-key controversies, if any, among the extremely conservative and secluded 134,000 strong Tibetans-in-exile community in India.

Not surprisingly, the contest has irritated the Chinese.

In 2005, the reigning Miss Tibet was forced to withdraw from medium-level beauty pageants in Zimbabwe and Malaysia after objections from the Chinese, organizers say.

It has also irked conservative Tibetan Buddhists — the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile here once famously called it ‘un-Tibetan’ and ‘aping Western culture’.

In an attempt to generate a little more publicity, the organizers threw the controversial ’swimwear round’ open for public viewing for the first time in 2006.

This year the contest will kick-start with the swimwear round on October 12 and will conclude with the crowning ceremony on Sunday. (ANI)

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