Tibetan Shoton Festival

Shoton Festival is one of the most important traditional festivals for Tibetans. It is celebrated on the last day of the 6th or the beginning of the 7th in lunar month on the Tibeton calendar. In Tibetan, “Snow” means “yogurt”, “Dun” stands for "ating or banquet". Shoton Festival literally means drinking yogurt, so the festival is also known as the Yogurt Festival. During the festival, the Tibetan Opera and the "Shaifo" ceremony will be held, so the festival is also called “Zangxi” or "ShaiFo" festival.


The history of Shoton Festival can date back to the 11th century. At that time, it was only a religious activity. Folk legend, there are hundreds of disciplines in Tibetan Buddhism, and the most taboo is to kill living thing. In summer, when the weather turns warmer and warmer, everything begins to grow. The trees turn green, and the flowers come out, all things are alive. As many animals come out to search for food, it is easy for Buddhist to trample insects or worms while walking. In order to keep the rule of “not to kill”, the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism regulated that all its monks should stay in the monasteries to meditate and study scriptures between the fourth and sixth Tibetan months. Such activity was called "Yalei", which means to live peace in summer. At the end of 6th month, monks were allowed to go out of the temple, came down from the mountain. In return for the monks blessings, the common people would hold a picnic for them, and celebrating the meeting with yoghourt and Tibetan opera. This is the origin of the Sholton.

Tibetan Shoton Festival culture



The traditional way of starting the Shonton Festival is to show Buddha paintings. As the prelude of the festival, Buddha showing is the most remarkable exhibition of the ceremony. At 8 o 'clock in the morning, when the first gray of dawn is rising, the low and deep sound of Buddhist horns coming from Buddhist temples, a 500-square meters of Buddha statues is on the display, reveal peaceful appearance. Tens of thousands of believers and tourists fold their hands and make worship to this sacred place. If you are on the spot, you will be deeply moved by such a magnificence ceremony.

Tibetan Opera

Tibetan opera is another Highlight performance. At the second day of the Sholton Festival, the performers will sing from 11a.m.to the dusk in the LongWangTan Park, opposite of the Norbulingka and the Potala palace. It is said that what they have sung was the most beautiful part of the play. If Time permitted, a play would be singing for a few days. The performers enjoy themselves and the audiences are enthusiastic.

There are other entertainment activities as well, such as folk art performances, fireworks displays, yak racing and equestrian skills, turning the festival into both a religious event and a party for the folks.

Tibetan Shoton Festival celebration


The three major sites for the Shaton Festival were the Drebung Monastery, Potala Palace, and the Norbu Lingka Park. They have coexisted in Lhasa for 200 years. The centre place for enjoying Tibetan opera is the Norbu Lingka Park in western Lhasa. The Shoton Festival, as a unique festival for the Tibetan people, has become a form to express the Tibetan culture to the world. It is very important for the Tibetan to maintain their distinctive culture, enhance the national unity. Today, the Shoton Festival has become an attraction to tourists from home and abroad. It is a combination feast of tradition and modernity. During the day, you can enjoy many activities, such as the Buddha showing, arts performance, sports competition, trade fairs and business investment or the local specialty display.

If you want to learn more about the Tibetan culture, welcome to travel here, join in local people, then enjoy yourself!

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