By Lalit Mohan
DHARAMSHALA, India, 4 July 2016
Ever since Tenzing Sangyi became Miss Tibet, the 21-year-old nursing student from Manali has been receiving offensive messages from Tibetans who have been touting her as a poor Tibetan.
A message received by Sangyi read: “First, the Prime Minister who can’t write his name properly and now Miss Tibet, who can hardly speak her mother tongue. What’s next!” [sic].
Another comment read: “You are just Miss Lobsang Wangyal, but not Miss Tibet. I hate Miss Tibet. You are not a Tibetan.” Sangyi has received hundreds of such messages from Tibetans.
Sangyi said initially, she was taken aback, but later realised that the people were attacking her for her poor language. They might be concerned about the already threatened identity of Tibetans living as refugees for the past more than 50 years, she said.
“I request all Tibetans to stand as one and stop bullying anyone. I will make efforts to improve my language. I thank my supporters as well as critics,” she said.
Lobsang Wangyal, organiser of Miss Tibet, said: “In 2004, I was criticised as Miss Tibet was not able to speak her mother tongue properly. At that time, I told the critics that there were many youngsters who were facing a similar problem. I requested them to do something about it, but nothing happened.”
“This year, we again have a Miss Tibet who doesn’t speak Tibetan. I am again requesting our culture/language torchbearers to do something about it. It is not something that I have control over,” Wangyal said. “The Pageant is an open platform and I am not stopping anyone from being a contestant who meets our criteria. I can only hope that those who are concerned about our language will send contestants who know Tibetan to the next year’s Pageant.”
Wangyal said Sangyi was the daughter of Tibetan refugees and did not get a chance to go to a Tibetan school. She did her schooling from an Indian school. Tibetans should be more tolerant and support her, he added.