Explore Tibet team announces Tibetan yogurt festival

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Explore Tibet, a Tibetan-run travel agency, announced that the annual Shodun festival will take place this year from August 17-22 in Lhasa at Norbulinka Palace and park. “Visitors to Lhasa at this time will get to experience traditional Tibetan singing and dancing, as well as rare Tibetan opera performances,” the Explore Tibet team said. “Visitors to Tibet should know something of the history and significance of this festival.”

Explore Tibet, a Tibet travel agency, announced that the annual Shodun festival will take place this year from August 17-22 in Lhasa at Norbulinka Palace and park. “Visitors to Lhasa at this time will get to experience traditional Tibetan singing and dancing, as well as rare Tibetan opera performances,” the Explore Tibet team said. “Visitors who go to Tibet should know something of the history and significance of this festival.”

“Shodun” is the Tibetan word for “yogurt.” Before the end of the 16th century the Shodun festival was purely religious. Monks would stay secluded indoors for about a month in the summer to avoid killing the newly-born insects and small animals. They would focus on meditation and spiritual practice. At the end of the summer they would leave seclusion and the lay people would bring them yogurt.

This religious observance turned into a celebration where many people would gather in the park around the palace for picnics and musical performances. Starting in the middle of the 17th century Tibetan opera became a common feature of the Shodun festival. Opera and theatrical troupes would travel from different regions of Tibet to Lhasa to pay their respects to the Dalai Lama, whose traditional summer home is the palace at Norbulinka. During the festival the park is decorated with banners and traditional-style rugs. People spend the day there picnicking, and often build bonfires and celebrate late into the night.

In addition to the events at the park, the two main monasteries in the Lhasa area also observe the celebration. The Drepung monastery hosts a Thangka display in the morning, and the Sera monastery hosts one in the afternoon. These large, elaborate paintings are revealed only on rare occasions for Tibet tour, and thousands of people line up to see them to pay homage.

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Sonam Jamphel
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