The coming Shoton Festival

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August 5th 2014
Published: August 5th 2014
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Shoton Festivalis about to begin. As one of the most important traditional festivals in Tibet, it attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists from home and abroad to come to visit every year.

The initial Shoton festival is mainly held for the monks, and from the mid-11th century to the 17th century, it is a purely religious activity. Gelu Sect(Tibetan Buddhist) forbid monks to go out between April and June. When the day of lifting the ban coming, the monks can leave the temples and go down from the mountains. At that time, people will bring yogurt to reward the monks. So that it is also called the Yogurt Festivel.

In addition to eat yogurt, there are other activities. Such as the ceremony of displaying the Buddha’s tangkha, the performance of Tibetan Opera, horserace and “guo linka” (linka means garden in the Tibetan language, guo means visit, just like camping). They are also the reflection of Tibtan culture to inherit.

Zhebang Si, or the Drepung Monastery, is one of the largest and most influential temples in Tibet. At this time every year, a huge tangkha portrait of Buddha which is 38meters long and 32 meters wide will be displayed at there. As the huge Buddha image slowly revealing the peaceful face, it is bathed in glorious morning sunlight. After it is fully unfolded, the Tibetan will disciples pray and throw white hadas onto it to show their respect. They won’t be satisfied until they touch the tangkha in person. In order to have a look at of this overwhelming scene, you need to get up very early.

Tibetan opera is another highlight. After viewing the Buddha, you must spend some time to enjoy the performance of Tibetan Opera. Due to its high-pitched singing and moving, cadence monologue, magical magnificent masks, ancient solemn dress, beautiful and moving dance, it is full with a very strong ethnic flavor. You just feel immersed in a festival atmosphere.

I think “guo linka” is very interesting, because this event has a great relationship with the climate in Tibet. As Tibet’s summer is very short, beautiful weather and warm sunshine is the most precious gift from the nature, people must take good advantage of it. It is reminds me of the Japan Cherry Blossom Festival. Such beauty of nature is worth appreciating and cherish. During the festival, people are busy to concentrate to Norbulingka, the Dragon King Lake and other large Linka, spend tastefully holiday. They will carry various colors of bags and hold highland barley wine barrels in small groups, maybe families or friends. Then set colorful tents under the trees, cover with mats、carpet on the grassland and put the wine and other festival food. They sing tibetan songs, dance “guo zhuang” on the grass, eat zanba, drink butter tea and barley beer on the beautiful carpet. Of course, also have some religious activities.

Tibetan people are very hospitable, many of my friends who have been to Tibet are deeply impressed by their open-minded and optimistic character. Each of them can sing and dance, no matter male or female. I am really looking forward for the coming festival and I hope to make some Tibetan friends there!


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