Shoton Festival
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Shoton Festival

Update: Feb. 22nd, 2012

Shoton Festival

Shoton festival is one of the most important festivals in Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan life. It is also one of long history festivals, which is hold in June, commonly.

In Tibetan language, "Sho" means Yoghurt, while "ton" means feast. So the Shoton Festival can be explained as the festival to have yoghurt base on Tibetan language. Later, as for the main activity in Shoton Festival is Tibetan Opera show, so people also named it "Tibetan Opera Festival". This festival not only celebrated in Lhasa, but also in Shigatse, but the time in Shigatse is later and named it as "Semuqinbo".

Shoton Festival – Brief Introduction

The prologue of traditional Shoton Festival is Buddha exhibition; and the main activities are playing and watching Tibetan Opera and visiting garden, as well as wonderful yak competition and horse-back action performance. The center of festival activity is in Norbu Lingka, west of Lhasa where is the summer garden of Dalai Lama who is the head of religion and politic in Tibet. When the festival comes, there will appear a colorful tent city in the woods around Norbu Lingka in a night, and several bustling festival streets. Almost the whole Lhasa city was moved into this green world, all the people live in outside, the songs spread in trees shadows with unique musical instruments in plateau. It is the most active festival of Lhasa people.

Shoton Festival – Origin

Shoton Festival originated in middle of 11th century when Shoton Festival is a purity religious festival. It is said that there are three hundreds commandment in Buddhism, and the strictest one is killing life. As warmer in summer, plants grow and animals wake, all the things refreshed, it is inevitable that monks may kill life when they go out which break the commandment. So the commandment of Gulug set that Lama must stay in monastery to practice during April and June which is named "Yale" means "settle down in summer". Until the day to release the taboo, Lama will go out monastery and go down the mountain. In order to reward the Lama, folks prepare yoghurt, hold outdoor feast and play Tibetan Opera in the welcome ceremony for them. That's the origin of Shoton Festival.

Shoton Festival – Activities

Buddha Exhibition

As the prologue of the festival, Buddha exhibition on Drepung is the most outstanding ceremony. In 8 o'clock in the morning, a giant Saykamuni statue which is 500 square meters and made up of colorful silk slowly show its peaceful appearance on the mountain waist behind Drepung, with the first thread of sunshine fall down, in the dignified and solemn Buddhism trumpet sound. Ten thousands believers and moved visitor with the two hands together to worship it.

Tibetan Opera

Tibetan Opera show is another important content of the festival. From the second day of Shoton Festival, in Longwangtan Garden which is on the opposite of Norbu Lingka and Potala Palace, the Tibetan Opera troops will play from 11 o'clock in the morning to the sun falling down. It is said that they only play the most important part for the time limited, or a play can be showed in several days. Both the actors and the audiences are enjoying the process.

Shoton Festival – Meaning

In the 200 years, there appeared the scene of Drepung Shoton, Potala Palace Shoton and Norbu Lingka Shoton present together, and Norbu Lingka is the center. Shoton Festival is important festival of Tibetan, the specific form of Tibetan culture. To keep this festival is meaningful to keep the unique features of Tibetan culture, strengthen nationality unity and maintain the diversity of world culture.

With history development, today's Shoton Festival is an event which gathered traditional Buddha exhibition, literature and art joint performance, sports competition, attracting investment, economic and commercial talks, goods exhibition and sale, tourism and entertainment together and combined the tradition and modern.

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