MCLEOD GANJ, India, 11 October 2012
Five girls from the Himalayan region are vying for [the crown] in the maiden “Miss Himalaya Pageant: for peace and environment” to be held from October 12-13 in Dharamshala, on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas.
Director of the beauty pageant, Lobsang Wangyal, who has for the past many years organised the “Miss Tibet” contests, revealed the five contestants for the first time earlier today at a press conference.
The five girls are Rachna Dhiman, 19 from Dharamshala, Anne Norbu, 19 from Sikkim, Rinchen Dolma, 23 from Sikkim, Thinley Yangchen, 22 from Spiti, and Kunga Tseten, 18 from Sikkim.
Wangyal told reporters that the Miss Himalaya Pageant is a way to celebrate the Himalayan region’s peace-loving people and their unique culture, and the pristine environment around the Himalayan mountain range.
“The pageant will not only provide an opportunity for young women, but will also foster friendship and understanding among the people in the region,” Wangyal said. “The pageant will also provide an opportunity to study and assess the vulnerability of the fragile Himalayan ecosystem.”
The organisers also expressed solidarity with the Tibetan self-immolators inside Tibet, who have set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“We, the people on this side of the Himalaya are aware of the fate of the people on the other side, where more than 50 people have self-immolated seeking freedom,” Wangyal said. “We stand in solidarity with them and support them in their quest for freedom.”
Earlier this year, Wangyal had cancelled this year’s Miss Tibet contest, one of the exile community’s most popular annual events, in the wake of the “very grim” circumstances in Tibet.
According to the organisers, the Miss Himalaya Pageant will have four rounds to appraise the contestant’s talents, confidence, and intelligence. The winner will be awarded one lac Rupees, the first runner-up will receive fifty thousand Rupees and the second runner-up will receive twenty five thousand Rupees.
Speaking to reporters, Thinley Yangchen, the contestant from Spiti, expressed her support for the struggle of the Tibetan people for a free Tibet. She also took note of the strong cultural bond that the people of the Himalayan region and Tibetans share.
“Tibet is like a mother and the people of Himalayan region are the children of Tibet,” Yangchen said.
Rinchen Dolma, the contestant from India’s north-eastern state of Sikkim, said her participation in the beauty pageant was a challenge against racism that people from north-east India face.
“Through this beauty pageant, I would like to spread the message to everyone that all of us from the north-east Indian states are a proud part of this great nation of India,” Dolma told reporters.
Talent round of the beauty pageant will be held on October 12 and the grand finale on October 13 at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
The organisers said the “Miss Himalaya Pageant: for peace and environment” will be held every year in different towns and cities of the Himalayan region in collaboration with local producers.