By Tenzin Dharpo
Kalimpong troupe performing at Tibetan Homes Foundation Mussoorie
DHARAMSHALA, APR. 21: The annual festival of ‘Shoton’ or ‘Yogurt Festival’, showcasing the Indigenous Tibetan performing art of Ache Lhamo known as ‘Tibetan Opera’ is underway in Dekyi-ling Tibetan settlement in Dehradun. The 2017 edition of the Shoton is participated by 10 different Opera troupes from various Tibetan settlements.
The festival showcases and enact Tibetan folk stories in the indigenous form of Lhamo in the unique Tibetan dramatic art form from April 19 to 24. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which organizes the annual event will lead the proceedings and showcase the saga of ‘Nangsa Woebum’ during the festival.
Shoton festival in progress. file
1On Wednesday, the opening day of the festival was graced by the presence of Kyabgon Vajra Ratna Rinpoche, the 42nd Sakya Trizin. The customary offering of Mendrel Tensum (the three representations of the Buddha’s Body, Speech and Mind), was followed by the procession of the idol of Mahasidha Yogi Thangthong Gyalpo, the founder of Tibetan traditional opera.
Regional Lhamo troupes representing various Tibetan settlements from Kalimpomg, Mainpat, Rajpur, Tibetan Homes Foundation, Mussorie among others will showcase their respective performances during the 6 day festival.
Speaking to Phayul, The Director of TIPA, Wangdu Tsering Pesur said that the festival is ticking all the boxes when it comes to the larger vision of promoting and preserving the art form. “We are encouraged with the level of participation and with the quality of the performances. Our leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama is especially keen observer of the progress and preservation of this particular art form and we are committed in extending the longevity of the proud Lhamo tradition in the community,” Pesur told Phayul.
The Director’s optimism is placed accurately; Poanta Lhamo troupe is the latest addition to the long list of Lhamo troupes from around the exile diaspora. Poanta Cholsum Tibetan Settlement’s Regional Office Secretary, Tenzin Lhakyi confirmed the newly associated Lhamo troupe. “The Tibetan settlement here takes a great pride in establishing the troupe.
The Department of religion and Culture (of the exile Tibetan government) recently sanctioned a generous grant of 4 lakh INR for us to start things up. The venture gives the people here an opportunity to contribute in the preservation of our culture in the most exiting way there is. Most of the troupe members here are youth which is encouraging with the future in mind.”
In 1993, the first ‘Grand Shoton Festival’ in exile took place which was participated by only four troupes. With the 22nd edition of the festival this year and with bolstered number of performers, it seems the unique Ache Lhamo Tibetan art form has firmly found its footing here in exile. Back home in Tibet, expert say, Lhamo remains the only form of performance art that China has struggled in replicating over the years.