The Pageant
Miss Tibet Pageant begins with Swimsuit Round

by Kirsten Hyde

8 October 2004 – The first round of the Miss Tibet 2004 beauty contest, the swimsuit round, kicked off yesterday before four judges and the media.

The round was closed to the public out of deference to the sensibilities of the conservative exile community, many of whom have lambasted the contest for not being in line with Tibetan culture.

The pageant's organiser, Lobsang Wangyal, says the pageant is new to the Tibetan community and some people are confused as to how to take it. "As and when it becomes a routine event — and we hope these people will get used to it — we will open the swimsuit round to the public", he says.

"The event was great, a real success", says one of the contestants, Tashi Yangchen. "Many of the journalists asked me about the controversy surrounding the pageant. I think it's mainly about how one perceives it. People point out negatives too much and should look more at the pageant's positives, which include us wearing traditional Tibetan dresses, walking proudly before an audience and sending a message globally about the Tibetan issue."

The event was held at Asia Health Resorts in Dharamsala, India, in front of representatives from both the national and international press, including a camera crew from Hamburg, Germany that flew in especially to film the event.

The contestants were judged on a number of criteria including figure, skin, posture and poise.

With the swimsuit round behind them, the girls are today preparing for the presentation and talent rounds of the contest, which will be held this evening. Each contestant will give a speech on a topic about Tibetan culture, history and current affairs. For the talent contest all the girls have decided to sing.

Tensions are running high as the girls prepare for the presentation round. "We're all excited about it but nervous too. Luck will come into it as the topics will be lottery drawn just minutes before we give a speech", Yangchen says.

Still, there is a real sense of comradery between the girls. "None of us are jealous, and we're all helping each other", says another contestant, Sonam Dickey.

"If this was an international pageant, there would be some competition", adds Yangchen. "But we're all Tibetan girls, working to create an awareness of the Tibetan issues. We want the show to be a success so we're all encouraging each other".

The crowning of Miss Tibet 2004 and the announcement of the winner of Miss Photogenic will take place on the evening of Oct 10. at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in McLeod Ganj. Miss Tibet 2004 will win a scholarship award of Rs. 100,000, besides a chance to take part in international beauty contests in the next year.

All rounds today and tomorrow are open to the public.

For more details click on 'Schedule'.

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