MCLEOD GANJ, India, 4 June 2009
Here comes the Miss Tibet Beauty Pageant 2009 to the delight and excitement of its fan worldwide including this writer. Four young and modern Tibetan women are participating in the Miss Tibet Beauty Pageant 2009 contest.
The spirit behind this event matters as much as the obvious physical appearance of the four contestants, aged between 18 and 24. The number four is auspicious in the sense that It symbolizes four harmonious beings (thuenpa puen zhi). It could also mean four Dakini of the four cardinal directions representing the four activities of peace, increasing, power and wrathful.
The very presence of these modern educated Tibetan women demonstrates to the world that the Tibetan nation with its unique culture, religion and rich civilisation is alive on this earth despite 50 years of Chinese communist, repressive colonial rule. Their presence also illustrates to the freedom-loving international community that the Tibetan people are a distinct race separate from the alien Han Chinese settlers on the Tibetan plateau. Their presence also speaks out in a forceful voice that Tibetan women are confident to face the world stage if given an opportunity.
There should be nothing controversial in organising this popular event. In the long history of human civilisation, when a new idea breaks the ground it has been held in awe and disbelief. Such ideas often face opposition and criticism from a minority section of their own society. It is common knowledge today that when Copernicus independently discovered in the 18th century that the Sun, and not the earth, was the centre of the Solar system he faced stiff opposition from a section of the orthodox Christian community of his times. Similarly when the Great His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIII introduced modern education in Lhasa, Tibet, he faced resistance from a section of the monastic community in the 1930’s. His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV has stated with regret in his autobiography Freedom in Exile that: “Had Tibet followed up the education reform started by the Great Dalai Lama XIII the situation of Tibet today would be different than it is now.”
In modern times it is taken for granted that the Sun is the centre of the Solar system, and education is the key to the progress of an individual and society as a whole. Thanks to the gratitude of a progressive modern leader and the world statesman in the person of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Miss Tibet pageant is an open competition for any eligible Tibetan women so it is transparent from the beginning. There is no cause for controversy. It is transparent in the middle in that the contestants are imparted an intensive and rigorous leadership training for approximately 10 days. Human rights experts, political science experts, historians, physical fitness experts, yoga experts, experienced and qualified Buddhism teachers, music and dance artists and choreographers and fashion designers among others impart courses to the contestants. Volunteers from all walks of life, young and old, offer a helping hand throughout the duration of the event preparation in whatever capacity he or she can serve.. The whole exercise builds meaningful relationships among the contestants and between the volunteers and contestants.
An environment of peace and friendship abounds throughout the preparation. On the grand finale evening Miss Tibet Beauty pageant spectators from all walks of life, cultural backgrounds and diverse beliefs and nationalities enjoy the show to their satisfaction. Importantly it sends shockwaves to the Beijing regime which feels a threat to its absolute authoritative power. It should therefore be logically non-controversial in the end for the Tibetan nationalist.
The Miss Tibet pageant promotes human affection, warm-heartedness, skill sharing, a spirit of co-operation and goodwill in the hearts and minds of everyone associated with it directly or indirectly. A kind of utopia blooms during the course of its final stages of preparation. It also fulfils the expressed wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to spread the message of altruistic heart and affection in humanity. Further it connects harmoniously the different believers and to create awareness about the Tibet Issue in its own humble way considering the fact that it is a creation of an individual Tibetan man educated and brought up in-exile.
This writer, a simple Buddhist monk, who has received modern education in India could not understand thus far why do our own folks criticise the Miss Tibet Beauty Pageant when its, both short term and long term advantages call for due its recognition. People who think it is controversial either are ignorant of how it is being organized and what goes on backstage or are simply giving personal comments, and in a democratic society everyone is entitled to free speech by law and constitution without any discrimination. It is controversial in the minds of those who look at it that way. But in reality there is nothing controversial about as I see it as it is transparent in the beginning, in the middle and in the end. If we are involved in it then only then can we see the actual facts as they are. The Miss Tibet beauty pageant involves months of preparation. It involves many people’s active physical labor, enthusiastic mental effort and heavy financial expense, so to deny its merit outright is to shut our eyes to the law of causality and interdependence that forms the foundation of reality.
The purpose of this article is neither to speak for or against the organising of this event, but to share with the people in general and those in positions of authority what I have seen from close observation since its inception. Every phenomenon has two sides, positive and negative. Everything is relative. Tibet is facing a death sentence. Tibetan people as a distinct race are facing slow genocide. So this is not a time to play politics of cult figures and wars of words which simply confuse the public in this critical moment of history. It is a time to support each other in our just freedom struggle. The Miss Tibet beauty pageant is one of the most peaceful means towards achieving this goal through creating awareness of the Tibet issue internationally. It should be obvious for everyone to see this without favour or prejudice.
Tibetan society is shy of free discussion in some modern fields of discourse and they are plunged into an abyss of unwanted inhibition which doesn’t allow them to think and act independently in the current situation. This then suffocates their free thinking and creative activities. The participants of this event are bold enough to educate us and let us be free and fearless, they are confident, have a “yes we-can-do-it” attitude in this competitive world and break the shackles of isolation that we are so used to and which cost us our country and everything that we love to talk about.
Why are we in exile in the first place? Are human rights and freedom the subjects only to talk about in public and private, or are they to be seen in practice in real life undertakings and community events? How do we regain our lost nation? Don’t we as a collective society need to compete with the community of nations in all human fields of knowledge, games and sports, arts and crafts, the literary and aesthetic world and all worthwhile cultural pursuits once we achieve a degree of freedom?
Best of Luck all the contestants for Miss Tibet 2009!