By Tenzin Dharpo
Performers on the opening day of the Shoton festival at TIPA, Dharamshala on April 20, 2018. Phayul photo- Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, April 20: The main courtyard of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts here on Friday was decked for the opening day of the Shoton, the Tibetan Opera festival that show cases classical Tibetan folklore in an indigenous form of performance, unique to Tibet known as Ache Lhamo.
Despite thunderstorm and shower, the organizers began the five-day Shoton (Yogurt) festival earlier today. Opera troupes from ten different places such as Nepal, Mundgod, Bandhara, Mussoorie, Chauntra, Kalimpong, Bylakuppe, Orissa, among others will perform classics such as Nangsa Woebum and Drimey Kundhen starting today through to April 25. On the last day of the festival, artists from host TIPA will perform the classic “Gyalsa Bhelsa”.
The President of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr. Lobsang Sangay who was the chief guest said that his administration is keenly supportive of the tradition. “As advised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration considers Tibetan opera as an important component of Tibetan culture that needs not just to be preserved but also promoted. In that regard, we have provided funds to revive existing opera troupes and establish new ones across Tibetan settlements in exile,” he said.
The Tibetan President also retraced the origins of the festival since the days of a free Tibet. He said, “In Tibet, the monks of Drepung monastery end their annual summer meditation by eating Yogurt. The people from nearby towns come to the monastery at this time to offer Yogurt and seek the blessings of the monks. Opera troupes also come to perform at the festival and that’s how it came to be called Shoton – the Yogurt Festival.”
The festival earlier scheduled for April 18, was postponed by two days in a show of solidarity and expression of condolence for the families of the 27 lives that been lost in an unfortunate bus accident near here on April 9. The participating troupes also held a prayer ceremony for the victims of the accident.