April 2, 2003
   Posted in News Flash
Published By Tashi

Annual Tibetan Opera Festival Opens in the presence of the Dalai Lama

Dharamsala, 2 April 2003: Hundreds of Tibetans gathered at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) to enjoy the first day of Shoton (the Great Curd Festival), graced by the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This year there are nine lhamo or Tibetan opera groups participating in the festival. Mussoorie Lhamo association is the new entrant and it would be presenting the story of Sukyi Nyima.

The different groups today performed short presentations before His Holiness the Dalai Lama and guests and dignitaries.

Since during the performances, ‘sho’ or curd is served, the name ‘Shoton’ or the ‘great curd festival’ is attributed to the occasion

This ‘curd festival’ is believed to have started by Thangton Gyalpo who is much revered as the creator of Tibetan opera. Apparently he organized such dances to ward off the demons who interfere with his great bridge-building activities and also to collect donations to finance the bridges he built all over Tibet.

It is also said Shoton was made popular by the Great fifth Dalai Lama in 17th century when he was a student at the Ganden Phodrang of Drepung monastery. It is said he started the festival to distract the demons who interrupted the studies and devotion of the monks during their long summer retreats.

In Tibet, the biggest Shoton festival is celebrated at Drepung Monastery. It was always held on the 29th day of the 6th month of the Tibetan calendar which fall mostly in late August. However in India, the festival is organized in the month of March and April to avoid the monsoon deluge.

This is the ninth Shoton festival organized by the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts since 1959.

For more information visit The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA)

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