By Kalsang Sherab
DHARAMSHALA, India, 6 June 2016
The Grand Finale Night of 14th Miss Tibet pageant was hosted at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) ground at 7 last evening (5 June). The 21-year-old girl from Manali, Tenzing Sangnyi, crowned Miss Tibet 2016. Hundreds of audience attended the event. Other than the competition sessions of Miss Tibet, popular dancers and performers also joined the stage at this occasion.
At 7 pm, Lobsang Wangyal, the producer, director, and host of the event, announced the opening of the Grand Finale Night of Miss Tibet 2016. Fireworks and electronic background music followed the announcement together with the crowd’s exciting cheers. Director Wangyal briefly introduced the history and challenges of Miss Tibet with humour, including the conservative critiques within the Tibetan community on one of the competition rounds, the Swimsuit Session, as well as the Chinese government’s constant interference to politicize the Miss Tibet pageant.
Miss Tibet pageant has always been raising the awareness of the suffering of Tibetans in Tibet. In 2012, Miss Tibet was suspended due to the escalation of unrest within Tibet. This year, director Wangyal also brought a mat and chanting beads to the stage and called the audience to chant ‘Om Mani Pema Hum’ – the traditional mantra or prayer in Tibetan Buddhism – for over a hundred times with him. Meanwhile, the crowd were also singing the chanting collectively.
There were four rounds at the Grand Finale Night as usual, the introduction, gown, the traditional costume, and the interview. The two judges are respectively a senior healing counselor and an experienced yoga teacher, both of whom are female.
The four contestants, Dechen Wangmo from Mussoorie, Tenzin Dawa from New York, Tenzing Dickey from Bylakuppe, and Tenzing Sangnyi from Manali, began the first round of introduction dressed in casual clothes – white t-shirt and jeans. At the second round, they were dressed in western gown and performed catwalk on the stage in a sequence. And at the third round, the contestants were in different styles of chupa (traditional Tibetan costume) with exquisite decorations.
At the interview round, the contestants answered questions from the judges. When asked about how to live on if she were to lose, Tenzing Sangnyi, who was laterly crowned Miss Tibet 2016, answered that there is no losers at this stage and she has no regret whatsoever coming to Miss Tibet. She added that, if she were to lose, she would still be happy to see a new wonderful person representing Tibetan women, and she would keep on empowering women in the Tibetan community as much as she could.
Another contestant, Tenzin Dawa, a 17-year-old Tibetan from New York and the later 1st runner-up, were asked about the tension between tradition and modernity within Tibetan community. Dawa emphasized on the importance of raising the awareness among Tibetan youth of speaking the Tibetan language as well as preserving the Tibetan culture.
At the intervals of competition rounds, Tibetan dancers and performers contributed hip-hop dances, traditional Tibetan instrument, and Nepali songs, and so on to the event. These performers include the Himalaya Band, and the famous Snow Lion Man.
When being announced as the Miss Tibet 2016 by the 2015 winner Pema Choedon, Tenzing Sangnyi bursted into tears. At this occasion, Pema Choedon also gave a speech regarding her one-year experience being Miss Tibet 2015. She told the audience that the critiques in the past year have made her stronger than ever, and she is determined to make more changes to the Tibetan community in the future.
Tenzing Sangnyi, the new Miss Tibet, told the press that, “I gave my best, and I left everything to God. I knew he would make the deserving one win. To be honest, I didn’t get all the supportive motivation that I needed, but still I have beaten myself. I believe in myself, and I knew I could do it. I didn’t give up, I focused, and I worked hard. And finally, I have Miss Tibet crown on my head.”
Sangnyi added, “through this platform, and through this title, I can use my voice to inspire the youth of Tibet, to do something, to make their lives meaningful. They will listen to me, and I can inspire them. And I can raise awareness on international platforms about the political and cultural struggle that we Tibetans are facing.” Sangnyi also told the press that, as a nurse, she would love to raise awareness on HIV in particular among the Tibetan community.
The whole Grand Finale Night lasted till 10:30 p.m. The ceremony finished the director and some audience dancing on the stage and taking pictures with the contestants in traditional Tibetan dresses on the red carpet.