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<-Back to WTN Archives Tibetans celebrate Shoton Festival
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Sunday, August 7, 2005

2. Tibetans celebrate Shoton Festival

Reporter: John Taylor
ABC Online
Saturday, 6 August , 2005

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Tibetans are currently celebrating the Shoton Festival.

It's a noisy affair which celebrates an ancient culture that has survived
for more than 50 years under a Chinese communist government that sees
Tibetan faith as a threat to its rule.

The centrepiece of the cultural and religious event is the brief unveiling
of a giant portrait of Buddha beside a monastery outside Lhasa.

Our China Correspondent, John Taylor, was there, and he filed this report.

(sounds of tin drums and horns)

JOHN TAYLOR: The horn blows are so loud and strong you can feel them with
your body. But they mark the start of an event that has been taking place at
the Drepung Monastry since the 11th Century.

(sounds of tin drums and horns)

Monks struggle down the stairs from the main building, carrying a rolled up
picture of Buddha, called a tankah.

It's 35 metres long and 30 metres wide.

Monks buckle under its weight, but their journey has just begun. They weave
through the narrow lanes of the monastery, with pilgrims, the faithful and
tourists looking on.

The Shoton Festival is a cultural and religious event that involves a
seven-day holiday, the unveiling of a massive tankah, monks eating yoghurt,
and Tibetan opera.

Tens of thousands of people come to celebrate its start, including a Tibetan
University Student from Lhasa.

"Everyone gets up very early, and comes to pray here," she says. "It's a
most sacred matter. To participate in this religious event is very
important. It's held once a year and everyone has to come to pray."

(sounds of horns)

The portrait is carried to a special platform erected on the mountain beside
the monastery.

Little by little the monks at the top pull it up, until the full image of
Buddha is revealed.

On a rooftop at the monastery, newly joined monk, Zami Lo Tsang Tachin,
records it all on a digital video camera.

He says it's more than just a colourful event. Seeing Buddha encourages
people to devote themselves to each other.

"By viewing the portrait of the Buddha we will learn from his deeds. We will
make everyone around us happy, and make the world become more peaceful," he

China's Communist rulers view Tibetan faith as a threat to their rule. Since
the Chinese army took over Tibet in 1951, alternatively called a
'liberation' or an 'invasion', the Government has steadily interfered in
religious matters.

Monks at the Drepung Monastery say they must undergo about 40 days of
political instruction a year. They are taught to love China, oppose Tibet's
highest spiritual leader, the exiled Dalai Lama, and reject any notion of
Tibetan independence.

But the Shoton Festival still happens, and is a time to celebrate an ancient

This is John Taylor in Lhasa, Tibet, for Saturday AM.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Feeling the long arm of China The consul-general is making sure politicians know where her country stands
  2. Tibetans celebrate Shoton Festival
  3. China and India bury hatchet
  5. A reader fails to find jewels in the heart of the lotus
  6. Dragons in the Tibet Sky
  7. Conflicted Arab-American prays for peace

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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