Aug. 22, 2017 -- The ancient city of Lhasa will celebrate Shoton Festival from August 21 to 27.
In Tibetan, "sho" means "yoghurt" and "ton" means feast or banquet. "Shoton" means the "Yoghurt Festival".
According to tradition, the festival is held each year on the first day of the seventh month in the Tibetan lunar calendar and lasts for four or five days. According to rules of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism (the yellow hat sect), lamas from the various monasteries are not allowed to go outside from the 15th to the 30th of the sixth month in the Tibetan lunar calendar, so as not to trample insects. After the 30th day of the sixth Tibetan month, the lamas are finally allowed to come down from their retreats, then farmers and nomads would offer them yoghurt, and thus the Yoghurt Festival was formed.
The Lhasa Shoton (Yoghurt) Festival originated in the middle of the 11th century, and today features unveilings of giant thangka paintings of Buddha and Tibetan opera performances, becoming a holiday that combines religion and entertainment. In 2006, the Shoton Festival was included in China's first group of intangible cultural heritage protection list.
During the Shoton Festival, around 100,000 Buddhist followers and tourists will see the unveiling of giant thangka paintings of Buddha, watch Tibetan opera performances and equestrian events, eat yoghurt, and listen to folk songs.
On the morning of August 21, the huge, satin Sakyamuni Buddha thangka painting, which is nearly 600 years old, will be unveiled slowly at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa.