Miss Tibet contest shifts from India to New York over bikini round

Tenzin Paldon won the 2017 Miss Tibet beauty pageant at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala. Photograph:( Twitter )

WION Web Team Delhi, India Jan 05, 2018, 09.36 AM (IST)

The annually held Miss Tibet beauty pageant, a contest held for the Tibetan community in India was shifted from Dharamshala in India to New York this year. 

The contest that started in 2002 with an aim to empower Tibetan women in exile features a controversial swimsuit round like any beauty pageant -- which was disapproved of by the Tibetan elderlies and feminist groups.

The conservative community members were upset about the bikini round owing to religious beliefs along with feminists who felt it was sexual in nature and demeaning to them.

Speaking on the issue, a Tibetan elderly was quoted: "We are living in exile and the only identity we have is our religion and tradition. If we shift towards westernisation, we will be finished."

Their unanimous expression was to the effect of, Buddhism being centred around "inner beauty and not superficial attraction".

The event, much publicised, was initially held for its 15 editions in the Buddhist dominated town of Dharamshala before being moved to cosmopolitan New York in the United States in 2018. 

Speaking to the local press, the founder of the Miss Tibet pageant, Lobsang Wangyal, said: "The event was held with a single participant in 2003, 2005, 2013 and 2014".

"We can mark our presence and raise our voice through the platform of beauty by crowning Miss Tibet. I was struggling alone, but now I have entered into a tie-up with an entertainment firm with the help of a few Tibetan friends," he said. 

Most numbers of participants the pageant were recorded last year with nine competing for the title-- as the organiser was struggling to finance the competition with no existing sponsors on board. In 2017, a flight attendant named Tenzin Paldon (21), from Kollegal of Karnataka, was crowned Miss Tibet 2017. 

Hopeful for the event to pick up momentum after being held in New York, Wangyal said, "We have floated online applications and the last date is March 31. We are looking forward to a spectacular show as we move from the small Himalayan village in Mcleodganj to New York."