Development of Shoton Festival
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Development of Shoton Festival

Update: Feb. 17th, 2013

Tibetan Opera Performance in Shoton Festival

Development of Shoton Festival – Formation of Shoton Festival

Shoton Festival formed in Drepung Monastery at first. In the later half of 17th century and early of 18th century, the emperor of Qing Dynasty conferred on the fifth Dalai Awang Luosang Jiacuo and the fifth Panchen Luosang Yixi and granted golden seal and golden scroll. Then, the system of fusion of religion and politics enhanced in Tibet. In 1642, the Gelug Sect (Yellow Sect) of Tibetan Buddhism was in power in Tibet. The fifth Dalai got the crown. So, the residence of the fifth Dalai – Gandan Pozhang in Drepung Monastery became the center of politics, religion and culture of this kingdom. On June 30th in Tibetan Calendar in each year, thousands of Tibetans came to Drepung Monastery to present yoghurt to the fifth Dalai Lama and Lamas in Drepung Monastery and pray for getting blessed. Then, nearby Tibetan Opera troupes and wild yak dance troupes also came to perform. From this time on, it formed a fixed festival, and the content of the festival became more and more rich. It is named "Shoton Festival". On the day, the fifth Dalai came out to enjoy Tibetan Opera, and the annual Iron Stick Lama handled hand -over procedures on this day. Tibetan Opera permeated into the early period of Shoton Festival. It was the beginning of the combination of religious activities and recreational activities. But the scale was still in monastery. Since the center of activities is Drepung Monastery, it also named "Drepung Shoton Festival".

In the later half of 17th century, the Shoton Festival gradually changed to and fixed as an important festival which focused on Tibetan Opera performances and Buddha Exhibition and combined recreation and religion. Hence, the Shoton Festival is also named "Tibetan Opera Festival" and "Buddha Exhibition Festival".

Since from 1994 when the Shoton Festival was held by Lhasa Government, the Shoton Festival changed to a famous festival in the world which integrates performances, sports competition, leisure tourism and business negotiation and combines tradition and modern.

Development of Shoton Festival – Performance of Tibetan Opera

After the fifth Dalai Lama moved to Potala Palace, the activities of Shoton Festival were also held in Potala Palace. On June 30th in Tibetan Calendar, Tibetan Opera troupes first performed in Drepung Monastery and performed for Dalai in Potala Palace on the second day. In the later years of the seventh Dalai Lama, he got several diseases. Doctors suggested him to have bath in Norbu Lingka. From Water Year in Tibetan Calendar (1753) to 1757 when he passed away, he almost spent summer there every year. In the period of eighth Dalai Lama Qiangbai Jiacuo, the Gesang Pozhang Palace was built up in Norbu Lingka. Then, the Norbu Lingka gradually changed to the summer palace of Dalai. Hence, the main activities of Shoton Festival were held in Norbu Lingka. At the same time, common Tibetans were allowed to enjoy Tibetan Opera in the Norbu Lingka. From then on, activities of Shoton Festival became more complete and formed fixed festival ceremony.

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