Dharamshala — TPI journalists, Chandreyi Mukherjee and Lavania Saraf Rathore report from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh India.
The Tibetan culture is a living, breathing, changing culture with young women who wish to have the same opportunities as their counterparts in other parts of the world including education, travel and cross-cultural experiences. According to the the organiser, "Young Tibetan women deserve the chance to be seen as part of their traditional culture and also beyond their culture, as temporary modern young women."
That being said, the commencement of the Miss Tibet Pageant 2017, was proudly announced by director, Mr. Lobsang Wangyal, "This year we have the most contestants ever in the Pageant year history.The nine contestants this year are all beautiful, intelligent and ambitious."
The following girls are contestant of Miss Tibet 2017:
Chemi Kyizom, 20, from Delhi; Migmar Dolma, 22, from New York; Saldon,19, from Vienna; Tenzin Khechoe, 22, from Bangalore; Tenzin Nordron, 20, from Chauntra; Tenzin Norzom, 22, from Manali; Tenzin Paldon, 21, from Kollegal; Tenzin Yangkyi, 25, from Byalakuppe; Tenzin Yeshi, 20, from Bylakuppe.
"Many previous winners have gone further and participated in various international Pageants, with at times the Chinese government jumping in to block Miss Tibet's participation. But the Pageant is not a political platform, and such unscrupulous acts by a powerful country are uncalled for. Every opportunity is not politics, and young women need many such platforms if we are to be practical about Women Empowerment." he added
Before the commencement of the interview, we had the good fortune of catching the last bits of a tea party where the contestants were gauging in conversation with the president of the Tibetan Women's Association. Gender inequality, education and fund raising towards the Tibetan's Women's Association were the focal points of the final phase of the tea party.
"We have a responsibility to take the cause of the Tibetan issue to the higher level. Also, it empowers the younger generations to come up and showcase their skills and talent," said 22-year-old Tenzin Khechoe from Bangalore when asked what the title of Miss Tibet means to her. Judging by their demeanor and their spoken verses, the nine contestants for Miss Tibet, 2017 seemed self assured and assertive concerning not only their potentially winning title but also about the Tibetan community and the lack of role models and mentors in their community, which is what made several contestants take the initiative for Miss Tibet in the first place. We engaged in conversation with the contestants and inquired about what the title of Miss Tibet means to them, why they decided to be a part of such a pageant, and their plans and intentions after the title is won.
Another optimistic response came forth from Tenzin Yeshi from Bylakuppe, India. When asked why she considers the Miss Tibet pageant as an appropriate space for her, she said, "I am here today because I think that the Miss Tibet pageant empowers young women and it is great platform to see young women taking initiative. Also at this present time, role models are strong but very few, so we need more Tibetan women to emerge as role models. That's why I'm here I want to be a role model for them."
A more representational view emerged from the 19-year-old Saldon from Vienna, Austria who seemed determined when she stated, "The reason why I came to Miss Tibet is because first this is such a great platform for the young Tibetan women and this is just one lifetime and this is a great platform."
"Second of all, we are Tibetans and we have no country, our country was captured and I want the whole world to know that we have no country but we still have the power to do." Saldon, who is the youngest contestant of the pageant, shed light on the very fact that the Tibetans do not have control over their country, their land anymore, and in such an exiled land, the opportunities for advancement are restricted, not only for women but also for men," she added.
Hence, the contestants strongly believe that Miss Tibet provides a platform for the young generation to come forth and take this opportunity to raise awareness about their lost country. 22-year-old Migmar Dolma, from New York, US, had other reasons for participating in the pageant, stating, "The reasons I wanted to join Miss Tibet 2017 as because I want to take my crown to North America and I also I wanted to learn more about the Tibetan culture because i grew up in America."
We learned she flew in all the way from New York to raise awareness about the Tibetan community there. She apologized for her weak Tibetan verse and was thankful to her parents for educating her on the Tibetan community. She also posed questions about the funds being raised towards the Tibet Women's Association: specifically, the transfer of funds from their New York branch to the one in Dharamshala.
20-year-old Tenzin Nordon, from Chauntra, India took a very strong stand when asked what she aspires to achieve or what she hopes to carry out if the title of Miss Tibet is awarded to her, declaring, "I would raise my voice to influence the youth about their confidence because in confidence it includes everything, their body their face, their character. Secondly, I would raise my voice creating awareness about HIV AIDS, racism and gender equality." Her answer encompassed boosting the confidence of the youth, as well as drawing attention towards the oppressed sections of society.
In its entirety, the interview reflected themes of an inspirational figure, a troubled nation and its people, and providing a platform for the Tibetan youth to emerge as a confident, powerful, and talented group of people.
The organiser says the "pageant is a platform for young Tibetan women to showcase their talents and aspirations, and be encouraged to demonstrate the full range of their capabilities and interests."