Lobsang Wangyal, director of the Miss Tibet pageant at the 10th Miss Tibet Pageant. (Phayul photo/Norbu Wangyal)
DHARAMSHALA, May 4: One of the exile community’s most popular annual events, the Miss Tibet contest has been cancelled in the wake of the “very grim” circumstances in Tibet.
In a short notice on its official website, Lobsang Wangyal, director of the Miss Tibet pageant made the announcement.
“I write with profound sadness for the tense situation in Tibet, as is evident from the 34 cases of self-immolation since March 2011: I have decided to forgo this year’s Miss Tibet Pageant,” Wangyal wrote.
“With the lives of many Tibetans at stake, the very grim current circumstances leave no room for pageantry and celebrations.”
The ongoing wave of self-immolations in and outside Tibet has witnessed 36 Tibetans set their bodies of fire since 2009 demanding freedom for Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.
“I take this opportunity to remember and pay homage to those who have died for the Tibetan cause, and stand in solidarity with all the Tibetans in Tibet,” Wangyal added.
This is the first occasion that the annual contest has been forgone since the event began in 2002. According to the organisers, the purpose of the pageant is to provide a stage for young Tibetan women "to demonstrate the full range of their capabilities and interests", and to provide "role models for the younger generation, as spokespeople for their culture.
Although sections of the Tibet society have criticised the pageant for "aping western culture" and being "un-Tibetan," the annual event has been popular amongst Tibetan youth.
Earlier winners of the contest have represented Tibet internationally at Miss Asia Pacific World and Miss Earth contests.