Single contender crowned Miss Tibet after rivals pull out

AP News Service (AP)

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There were no surprises when 22-year-old Tenzin Nyima was crowned Miss Tibet 2005. She was the only contestant in the pageant held by Tibetan exiles in this north Indian city.

Still, crowds cheered her crowning and fireworks lit the night sky Saturday at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

Eight girls from Canada, India, Nepal, Switzerland, Thailand and the United States initially entered the contest, now in its fourth year. All but Nyima withdrew their applications, apparently under pressure from conservative Tibetan Buddhist groups.

In previous years, officials in the exiled government have spoken out against the pageant, saying that it is not reflective of Tibetan culture.

China occupied Tibet in 1951, and the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since a failed Tibetan uprising in 1959. Dharmsala, the headquarters of his government-in-exile, is 425 kilometers northwest of New Delhi.

Pageant organizers praised Nyima for her bravery.

"Her participation will help break the rigidity of our society and pave (the) way for it to come out of the shell of conservatism," said the pageant's director Lobsang Wangyal.

Dressed in a traditional Tibetan costume, Nyima walked down the catwalk to the delight of some 300 people who had turned out to watch. She also performed a dance.

But there was no swimsuit contest this year. In past pageants it had been held in front of the judges only, and closed to the public.

"I ask the young Tibetan women to come in support of this pageant," Nyima said after receiving her crown and a scholarship check of 100,000 rupees (US$2,300).

"This is an important platform for us to showcase our talent."

This is the second time since pageant's inception in 2002 that a single contestant has been awarded the title. Tsering Kyi was crowned unopposed in 2003.

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