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Shoton Festival (30th day of the 6th lunar month)

This festival (also Yoghurt Festival or Tibetan Opera Festival) begins on the 30th of the 6th Tibetan month. The origin of the festival started from the 17th century. The founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Sect of Buddhism), Tsongkhapa set the rule that Buddhists can cultivate themselves only indoor in summer; to avoid killing newly hatched insects or other creatures carelessly, because creatures are most active in summer. This rule must be carried out till the seventh lunar month. After that Pilgrims came to serve them with yogurt. In ancient times, pious people went into mountain hermitages to do penance. After the cultivation, their family would come, bringing with them fermented milk. On their way home, they drank the milk, sang and danced. Since the 7th century Tibetan opera performances were added to the event to amuse monks in monasteries. Presently, opera contests and the distribution of prizes last for seven days. During the festival, giant Thangkas of the Buddha is unveiled in Drepung Monastery and Tibetan opera troupes perform operas at Norbulingka near lasha. After devoutly viewing the thangka, the people go onto the Norbulingka and other popular spots for a lingka (picnic).

 
     
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