Shoton Festival: a cultural feast on plateau

People in Lhasa celebrate the Shoton Festival at the end of the sixth month and the beginning of the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar every year. Shoton is a rich and grand traditional Tibetan festival. Regarding Shoton, everyone in Lhasa may have different feelings, which might be: a bowl of yoghurt, Tibetan opera, and the lively atmosphere of a family reunion at a lingka (picnic).

Yoghurt is a delicacy familiar to Tibetan people. The handmade yak yoghurt is always delicious. In a yellow porcelain bowl, the yellow milk skin is faintly scented. Peel off this milk skin, and the soft and viscous yoghurt underneath is as white as snow.

In addition to eating yoghurt, folk Tibetan opera troupes from different counties and districts in Lhasa also perform Tibetan opera in Norbu Lingka and Dzongyab Lukhang Park during the Shoton Festival. There are eight traditional Tibetan operas, including masterpieces such as Namsa Wenpo, Sukyi Nyima, and Princess Wencheng, and these are also the favorite Tibetan operas of the Tibetan people. During the seven days of the Shoton Festival, the Tibetan opera troupes sing from sunrise to sunset every day. The common people sit around the stage and enjoy this seven-day cultural feast.

Besides, people can also enjoy a comfortable lingka during the festival. Families dress in festive clothing, drink barley wine and butter tea, play cards, dice, chitchat, enjoying the comfort of the festival under shade of trees in parks.

With the passage of time, the activities of the Shoton Festival have also increased. From the simple traditions of eating yoghurt, watching Tibetan opera performances, and having a picnic to enjoying equestrian competitions, yak races, and trade fairs. As the activities continue to get more enriching, the Shoton Festival has also evolved into an open and inclusive cultural tourism feast.