Dolma Tsering - Miss Tibet 2002

Dolma Tsering The crown kept slipping from Dolma Tsering's head, who was crowned the first-ever Miss Tibet on the 12 of October 2002. Perhaps this was the only thing that the Miss Tibet pageant had in common with the other beauty pageants.

Dolma was unlike most Tibetan girls, who withdrew to compete after applying. She was the only one who was born in Tibet. Dolma had tumultuous times in the past few months before she was crowned the first ever beauty queen of Tibet.

Her father, a freedom fighter, who survived 21 years of imprisonment intermittently from 1961 to 1992 in various Chinese prisons in Tibet, passed away in July 2002 in the middle of Dolma's preparation for the competition. Her mother, 60, spent all the money Dolma had given her, calling her two children that she left behind in Tibet.

Her father was a driving force for her to compete in the Miss Tibet pageant. But then the apparition of her father during her preparations empowered and blessed her to push forward because he had supported her to compete in the pageant and given her the power to move ahead. "My father taught some history as a part of my preparation for the pageant," Dolma says.

She was working at a modelling agency in New Delhi as a receptionist, where she got a sense of modelling and hitting the ramp and the general outlook of the glamour world. This apart, she is an apprentice in the field, having not completed her studies.

It was due to her family problems that Dolma had to leave her school in 1998, after passing eighth class, to give a helping hand to bring the family needs ends together. She studied in Tibetan Children's Village school near Manali, a popular hill station for Indian honey mooners in northern India. She excelled at her studies and double promoted twice.

However, it was but for circumstance that Dolma uncompleted her studies. For her interest in studies, she kept learning by herself such as Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan culture and English language. She attended an English language school in Delhi for two years.

Her life before fleeing to India was that of going after animals. Studying was a remote dream. She was born in 1983 in Minyak in eastern Tibet. The country was invaded and ruled by China since 1949. Till date 1.2 million Tibetans have died as a direct result of the occupation. Over 6,000 centres of learning were destroyed. The country is continued being ruled in a brutal fashion with a strategy to wipe out the identity of its people from the face of the earth.

Dolma's parents survived the repressive treatments but decided to flee to freedom in India and join the Dalai Lama. It was in 1994, her parents made the move to flee. They went to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, as pilgrims. They went to Shigatse, another important city in Tibet, by jeep. It was one summer night that from here they rushed under the cover of darkness that began their 21-day perilous journey to cross the Himalayas. There preparation was not like that of the fun and fame seeking trekkers in the Himalayas with the 100% rescue prepared.

The perilous journey is synonym for death traps. It is often accompanied by hunger, cold and loneliness, and, one wrong move may cause the end of their life.

There were dangers of being arrested, which would mean imprisonment and torture. At the border, there are fears of being robbed by border security forces, who strips off all the possessions.

They finally were received by the Tibetan Reception Centre for new arrival refugees in Kathmandu of the Tibetan government-in-exile. There, the new refugees were taken care of to reach Dharamsala, India, the exile headquarters of the Dalai Lama and his government-in-exile, for an audience with him and to decide on their future.

Dolma was brought up a nomadic life among Yaks and sheep. Yaks are reared at altitude higher than 4,000 metres above sea level. Her family had 10 Yaks, 13 Dri (female Yaks), 38 sheep, 14 pigs, 2 dogs and a cat. In summer, the animals are brought up to the upper reaches of the plateau while some members of her family grew barley, the staple Tibetan diet.

Today, at age 20, Dolma is an International figure representing Tibet in international beauty pageants. She participated in Miss Tourism Intercontinental 2003 in Malaysia and Queen of the Tourism International in Mexico.

Her participation maybe seen as Tibet registering in the world of beauty and glamour. But for Dolma, taking part in such international event symbolises getting a sense of belongingness and a chance to rise and evolve from denial to present the identity of an oppressed people.

She is an aspiring Model and a Singer. "I have a gifted voice, I love to sing and there are many songs from my village. I also have a dream to sing for my country."

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