Thousands of Tibet autonomous region residents braved the rain to pay homage to giant thangka -religious images embroidered in silk -to mark the start of the annual Shoton, or Yogurt Festival, on Friday in Lhasa, capital of Tibet.
Continuous rain early in the morning and hot sun afterwards did not stop people from finishing the pilgrimage.
Accompanied by the sound of long bronze horns and religious chanting reverberating through the valley, Buddhist monks slowly unrolled the thangka on a hill slope aside the region's Drepung Monastery.
The thangka was unrolled at the Drepung and Sera monasteries at 8 am.
According to an anonymous monk at the Drepung monastery, different from last year when the image of Buddha Shakyamuni was displayed, this year the image of the Future Buddha, known as Gyalwa Champa in the Tibetan language, was exhibited.
As it rained from time to time in the morning, monks covered the embroidery with thin plastic sheeting.
This year's event will feature the traditional "sunning of the Buddha" ceremonies, as well as Tibetan opera performances, picnics in the Norbu Lingka Park, trekking, equestrian events, traditional music and dance, and an ethnic costume show.
"I got up at 3 am and started my pilgrimage trip in the rain from my home. It took me hours to pay the visit to the Buddha," said Dorje Tashi, a 29-year-old resident of the region's Doilungdechen district.
"This year, it is unusual – I had to pay my visit in the rain, however, I am very pleased that I could make it. I will all living beings peace and happiness," said Dorje, adding that he also wishes the Buddha will bless him to bring good luck to him so that he cass pass the entrance exam at Tibet University.
The festival will last for one week from Aug 30 to Sep 5.
Shoton, which literally means "yogurt banquet festival," is one of the most important festivals for Tibetans in Lhasa, and it dates back to the 17th century when it began as a religious ceremony for local residents to offer yogurt to the fifth Dalai Lama and monks in the Drepung Monastery after finishing their meditation retreats in the summer.