Sho Dun Festival (Yoghurt Festival)

Date: 1st – 7th, 7th Month of Tibetan Calendar
Location: Lhasa, Drepung Monastery, Norbulingka, Sera Monastery

Shoton Festival, or Yoghurt Festival, is a time-honored and largest traditional festival in Tibet with most activities celebrated at Norbulingka in Lhasa, Tibet. Held in summer, usually in middle August, Yoghurt Festival is literally a yoghurt banquet.

The festival begun in the 16th century with a yoghurt banquet offered by lay people for monks and pious Buddhists after their one to two month’s summer retreat. In early summer, monks only stayed within their monasteries, and Buddhists went into mountain hermitages to do penance in order to avoid walking on newly hatched insects and killing them. When the penance finished, people came to serve them with yoghurt. Later on, Tibetan operas were added to the festivities to amuse monks.

Today, Sho Dun Festival has been developed to focus on Tibetan operas, so it also called Tibetan drama festival. The traditional way to start the festival is to unveil the giant Thangkas of the Buddha in Drepung Monastery, which is the grandest ceremony of the festival. From the second day, Tibetan opera troupes performs at Norbulingka from morning to nightfall every day, while partying groups gather on the grass, feast each other with their own highland barley wine, buttered tea and home-made Tibetan desserts; they enjoy the operas, sway their prayer wheels or twist Buddha beads. The Boisterous of Shoton also owe to kinds of Tibetan competitions, such as Yak racing. In the evening, Tibetans often make bonfires.

Happens in summer, Sho Dun is not only a best opportunity to see the mysterious Tibet local styles and cultures, but also a perfect time for amazing Tibet photos with pleasant weather and more oxygen content.