Miss Tibet 2013, the eleventh in the series, will be held in Bylakuppe, the largest settlement of the exiles in Karnataka, from Feb 10 to 13 next year, said the pageant’s director-producer Lobsang Wangyal.
“Since a large number of Tibetans are settled across India and they are not able to witness the event (in Dharamsala), we have decided to take the event to other towns too,” Wangyal said.
“If we get a good response in Bylakuppe, we will move to other places like Dehradun (in Uttarakhand) and Gangtok in Sikkim before returning to Dharamsala,” he said.
This year’s pageant was cancelled by the organisers following the continuing wave of self-immolations in Tibet over China’s harsh measures and their demand for the Dalai Lama’s return home from exile.
“Some 90 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese misrule in Tibet. We would like to dedicate the Miss Tibet pageant 2013 to those Tibetans,” he said.
Wangyal said the pageant, popular among Tibetan youth living in exile, was earlier held in June each year, but this time it will be held in February.
The forthcoming event will coincide with Losar, the first day of the Tibetan New Year, traditionally an event that sees massive celebrations among Tibetans.
The Miss Tibet contest started in 2002, amid mixed responses from the exiles. Many, including the government-in-exile, opposed the pageant and held it to be against Tibetan tradition.
The Miss Tibet pageant faces ire even in China, as winners participate in international pageants. Despite that, the pageant has gained huge popularity among the exiled Tibetans. Wangyal said the winners of the contest have represented Tibet internationally — twice winning Miss Earth in the Philippines and Miss Asia Pacific World once.
Miss Tibet 2011 Tenzin Yangkyi participated in the Miss Asia Pacific World — 2011 in South Korea, whereas Miss Tibet 2006 Tsering Chungtak and Miss Tibet 2007 Tenzin Dolma participated in Miss Earth in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Wangyal said due to stiff pressure by the Chinese, the Miss Asia Pacific World organisers had to change Yangkyi’s sash from Miss Tibet to Miss Swiss-Tibet. Nineteen-year-old Yangkyi is a Swiss citizen.
Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected leader of the Tibetan people in exile, however, supported the Miss Tibet pageant by saying “if composing songs, holding Miss Tibet contest and demonstrations are ways to achieve the goal (to draw international attention towards Tibet), I am all for them”.
“Once we have a Miss Tibet,” said Wangyal, “She can speak about the Tibetan situation in various international fora.”
1,00,000 The number of Tibetans in India
90 The number of Tibetans that have self-immolated in protest against the Chinese rule