Shoton festival is one of the liveliest summer festivals celebrated by Tibetans. In the past, lamas locked themselves away in their monasteries during this season to devote themselves entirely to Buddhism for a month. Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Sect of Buddhism), had set the rule that lamas should meditate indoors in summer, to avoid killing small creatures, like ants and other insects, by treading on them. When their devotions were over, lamas left the monastery to receive donations from the locals. The locals greeted them by offering yogurt. Thus Shoton festival in Tibetan means ‘yogurt festival’. Grand performances are organized to welcome the lamas. Giant Thangkas of the Buddha is displayed at Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery on the first day and people flock to watch the display. Buddhists regard this holy ceremony as a purification of the sprit and the soul.Tibetan Opera at Norbulingka is performed and horse and yak races are held at the Lhasa race course. The festivities last for about a week.
[Photo Credit: Lei Brown www.leibrown.com]
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