Performers perform Tibetan opera at Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region on Aug. 26, 2014. [CNS/Tang Zhaoyang]
The Tibetan traditional feast, Sho Dun Festival, began on Aug 25 this year and lasts until Sept 2. To welcome their most important festival, Tibetan people put on their colorful costumes, enjoying highland barley wine and different desserts to celebrate this special summer festival with their families and friends.
Many festival activities, such as Tibetan opera performances, Buddha displays and Thangka exhibitions have featured the theme “Beautiful Homeland, Happy Lhasa”. Tibetans enjoy the festive atmosphere.
In Lhasa, Tibetan opera competitions are held at Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace and Zongjiao Lukang Park every day during the festival, attracting crowded local residents and tourists from home and abroad.
With more than 600 years’ history, Tibetan opera is regarded as “a living fossil of Tibetan culture”. It was listed in the world’s intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 2009.
This traditional Tibetan festival is usually celebrated at the end of June or early July in the Tibetan calendar, which is a kind of almanac created by Tibetans with a history of 1300 years and much different from the Gregorian calendar and Chinese lunar calendar. In the Tibetan language, the "Sho Dun Festival" means "a special day to eat yogurt", thus it is also called "Yogurt Festival" or "Yogurt Banquet". Sho Don Festival originated in the 11th century. It was exclusively a religious observance until the 17th century when the Great 5th Dalai Lama introduced Tibetan opera into the celebration, making it a nationwide gala. The festival mainly consists of three parts – the Great Buddha Display, Tibetan Opera Show and Horsemanship & Yak Race Show.