Tibet religious celebration mixes yoghurts and yaks

16th Jul 2013

Not many festivals and events on the planet combine yoghurt eating, yak racing, Tibetan dramatic operas and Buddhism.

The Shoton Festival does next month, making it one of Tibet's favourite celebrations.

It marks the end of Tibetan monks' season of meditation.

Shoton in Tibetan means "sour milk banquet".

Also known as the Tibetan Opera Festival or Buddha Exhibition Festival, this year's event runs from August 6-12.

The celebrations fill the streets, squares and monasteries in Lhasa, a favourite of holidaymakers on spiritual specialist tours on city breaks.

The main core of activities are focused on the western part of the city in the palace grounds of the Dalai Lama, called Norbulingka, that they started building in 1755.

The Norbulingka palace, park and garden area is Tibet's largest garden, covering around 89 acres, and is acknowledged as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On day one of the festival, the Thangka - or painting on silk with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist scene - is due to be unveiled at the Drepung Monastery.

Then the celebrations will start at Norbulingka.

Lhasa locals will congregate here and celebrate by eating yoghurt and watching the operas, yak races, horse races and dancing.

Buddhists flock to mountains to cultivate themselves, then their family will go and meet them there. On the way home, they drink yoghurt, sing and dance.

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