By Gautam Dheer
CHANDIGARH, India, 26 November 2012
In a bid to draw attention towards the escalating attempts of self-immolation by Tibetans for the cause of their freedom, the sole “Miss Tibet” beauty pageant will now be showcased before a much larger audience in Bylakuppe in Karnataka.
This is the first time in the decade-long history of this widely-viewed beauty pageant, featuring native Tibetan unmarried girls, that the event is being held outside Mcleod Ganj, the small town in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh which houses the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Talking to Deccan Herald on Monday, Lobsang Wangyal, the event’s director-producer, said the pageant will begin on February 10 and will be dedicated to all those who are making sacrifices for the cause of Tibet. “Over 80 Tibetans have committed self-immolation in the recent past against Chinese oppression. Nearly 60 have died,” he stated.
This event, he said, will not just provide a forum for young Tibetan women to display their talents and philosophy globally; it will also draw international attention to the plight of Tibetans living under Chinese-occupied Tibet. Parts of South India have large Tibetan settlements, including Bylakuppe and Mundgod in Hubli, Karnataka.
The event held in the hill state has attracted very few Tibetan women even as this annual show has been a crowd-puller year after year. On an average about 6 Tibetan girls participate for the pageant crown that entails a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh for the winner. The organizers are hoping a far greater participation this time from Tibetan women settled down south.
Among the seven rounds that lead to the winner of the contest is a bikini round. When the event first started in 2002 in HP, it invited criticism from the then Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile, a monk, who termed it as an event that apes western culture and was against Tibetan traditions. But the show went ahead.
Tibet’s first elected Prime Minister, Harvard-studied Lobsang Sangay, sworn in this year, is known for his liberal views.