Shoton Festival

Shoton Thangka at Drepung.

The Shoton Festival

Shoton is the transliteration of two Tibetan words which mean 'Yoghurt Banquet'. The festival originated at Drepung Monastery, as a celebration to mark the end of the monks' Yarné, their hundred day summer retreat. It begins on the new moon marking the end of the sixth Tibetan month. It includes performances of the musical dance dramas known as Ache Lhamo (Tibetan Opera). In other parts of Tibet the dances are part of the harvest festival, and yoghurt would be served at the feast which followed. The Ache Lhamo dances are attributed to Thangtong Gyalpo, also known as Chaksampa, a lama of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, also famous for building iron chain bridges in many parts of Tibet. The popularity of this festival was such that the government decreed it an annual event of a further five days, established at the Norbulingka. There are performances by all the established companies from throughout Tibet, some of which can perform the whole Lhamo repertoire, and some who specialize in one particular drama. Some of the stories are derived from Indian Buddhist legends, while others relate incidents in Tibetan history. Shoton Festival: Ache Lhamo performance at the Norbulingka
During the festival all the residents of Lhasa go out and gather in the Norbulingka Park. They set up beautiful tents and hang curtains there. They bring cakes, sweets, dairy products, yak-butter tea and have wonderful picnics. Professional and amateur Tibetan opera troupes gather in the Norbulingka Park and perform various Tibetan operas. Shoton Festival: Picnic Tents at the Norbulingka
Shoton Festival: Tibetan Picnic (with cellphone)

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