Miss Tibet crowned despite controversy

Epoch Times.com

Miss Tibet with crown

Tenzin Norzom, 23, was crowned Miss Tibet 2010 in Dharamshala, India, on June 6. Conservative Tibetans disapprove of the pageant, as does the Chinese regime which views it as a symbol of Tibetan independence and defiance against Chinese rule. (Photo: MissTibet.com)

The new Miss Tibet 2010 has been crowned despite the beauty pageant having been panned by critics as "un-Tibetan."

In a glittering ceremony in Dharamshala, India, Tenzin Norzom, 23, was chosen the winner among four other young hopefuls. Initially there were 15 contestants, but most withdrew due to pressure from family and friends who opposed the contest.

Controversy has surrounded the pageant since it began in 2002. Critics say it promotes Western exhibitionism and violates Tibetan culture, which values modesty. The Tibetan government-in-exile has also spoken out against it, saying the contest is alien to the country's tradition.

However, thousands of people attended the crowning at Dharamshala's Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts on June 6.

"I will use the title to promote the Tibetan cause in whatever way I can," Norzom told reporters after she was crowned.

"My dream has been fulfilled. I will try to be a role model for the younger generation and will encourage other Tibetan girls to participate in such contests to tell the world that we don't lack confidence."

Born in the Hunsur Tibetan settlement of South India, Norzom has just completed the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi. She is fluent in Tibetan, English, and Hindi and enjoys reading, music, and badminton.

In the finale, the four contestants competed in the areas of introduction, dress, interview, and traditional costume. Earlier in the contest there was also a swimsuit round — something looked askance at by many in the exile community and an anathema to Buddhist ideals.

Miss Tibet Tenzin Norzom

Miss Tibet 2010, Tenzin Norzom. (Photo: Tenzin Choejor, ExileLens.com)

According to the pageant's website, the event puts the winner "in an excellent position to speak about the Tibetan situation in international forums, drawing attention to the plight of the Tibetan people as well as the brilliance of the lifestyle and culture."

The purpose of the pageant is to "support contemporary, modern young Tibetan women," the website says.

The Chinese regime also disapproves of the pageant, viewing it as a symbol of independence and defiance against Chinese rule. The regime has successfully pressured international pageants to bar Miss Tibet contestants who refuse to wear a "Miss Tibet-China" sash. Several Miss Tibet winners have dropped out of international competitions rather than wear the Miss Tibet-China sash.

Each year at the pageant, a "Free Spirit Award" is presented to an individual who has contributed to world peace and freedom for Tibet from Chinese rule. The 2010 award was given to Mahesh Yadav for his blood portraits of world leaders to raise awareness for the Tibetan cause. In what he calls "Blood Movement for a Free Tibet," the peace activist has been doing portraits with his own blood for the past 14 years.

Norzom was awarded 100,000 rupees (US$2,148) as a scholarship, with the two runners-up receiving 50,000 rupees (US$1,074) and 25,000 rupees (US$537) respectively.

Usually celebrated with fire crackers, this year's event instead included a short prayer in memory of those who died in the earthquake in Tibet in April. The pageant donated 10,000 rupees (US$215) to the victims of the earthquake.

The pageant is sponsored by Kingfisher, a brand of beer, and produced by Lobsang Wangyal Productions in association with Can & Able group, an entertainment company based in Chandigarh, India.

Only four contestants participated in last year's Miss Tibet pageant as well, while just two took part in the 2008 event.

Published in: EpochTimes.com

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