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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Crowning glory for Miss Tibet
Miss Brazil Lucia Petterie and runners up
Could a Miss Tibet win the Miss World prize ?
Organisers of Tibet's first-ever beauty pageant are hoping that the competition will raise the country's international profile, but the planned event is not without its critics.

Due to be held in October, the creators of the Shambala Miss Tibet (SMT) competition, are promising more than just a beauty pageant.


The pageant has already sparked a lively debate among the local community

"The Miss Tibet beauty competition will bring Tibetan culture forward in time," the event organisers told the BBC's Outlook programme.

However, some community leaders have attacked the competition for being "un-Tibetan" in character and against Buddhist principles.

Expectation

The publicity surrounding the search for Miss Tibet claims that the competition is "about bringing Tibetan women to new heights in the changing times."

Miss World line-up
Miss Tibet will need to be more than beautiful

The competition will be held in the Indian Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama's home in exile.

The winner will then go on to represent Tibet in the Miss World competition.

Expectations among competitors are high.

"Winning the crown of Miss Tibet won't just be about being beautiful," Dolma Yanseng, one of the 20 contestants, explained.

"I will be reading lots to clue myself up on Tibetan politics, and also attend the three month training as organised by the director of the pageant."

All-rounder

In an attempt to root out the most engaging, knowledgeable all-round Tibetan woman, organiser Lobsang Wangyal has devised a series of complex tests.


Putting so much attention on the appearance just gives rise to the inner evils of vanity and lust

Pemba Tsering

"We have a round in which contestants will speak on Tibetan history, culture and current affairs," he explained.

"We also have a round in which contestants will come in traditional Tibetan costume.

"In this round we will see how complete they are in sense of clothing, jewellery, shoes, gestures, manners, walking, everything."

Billed as a non-profit making event, the winner will not only achieve a place in history books, but will also be awarded a university scholarship.

Glamour

Aware that he is designing a unique Tibetan contest, Lobsang Wangyal also promises a beauty pageant that the Tibetan people can be proud of.

Tibet
Critics say the contest is against Tibetan traditions

Complete with glitz and glamour, the organisers hope to make it comparable to any other in the world.

However the pageant has already sparked a lively debate among the local community, and to avoid controversy some concessions have been made.

"The first round is a swimsuit round", Lobsang Wangyal explained, "but it will be closed to the public because there are a number of people who think that appearing in swimsuits is not really Tibetan."

Protesters against the beauty pageant think the whole event very "un-Tibetan", and fear that the competition will further distance the Tibetan community from their traditional culture.

Community member Pemba Tsering explained: "Putting so much attention on the appearance just gives rise to the inner evils of vanity and lust,"

"Buddhists are to ward off these emotions, not to gather and encourage them."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Dolma Yanseng speaks to Outlook
"Winning the crown of Miss Tibet won't just be about being beautiful"
See also:

01 May 02 | Europe
08 Feb 02 | Middle East
18 Apr 01 | Middle East
30 Nov 00 | UK
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