YouTube – Travelogue Ethnic Odyssey – Magnificant Tibet 3/3

An important part of Shoton Festival is to visit the giant painting of the Buddha above Drepung Monastery. People start climbing the mountain as early as 2am, in order to get the best view.

Slowly, the first glimmer of light smiles upon the land; and on a city with more than 1,400 years of history.

Songtsan Gambo moved his capital to Lhasa from Shannan in the 7th century. According to historical records, he built the city specially for the Tang Dynasty princess he married, Princess Wencheng. For her part, she brought a statue of Sakyamuni to Lhasa with her, and the Jokhang Monastery was built to house it. This effectively made the Jokhang Monastery the heart of the city. Today, it is still its spiritual centre.

But today near Drepung Monastery, we are soon enveloped in mulberry smoke, as well as the sound of horns and of scriptures being recited. A group of lamas, over a hundred of them, are pull the 30-metre painting up to a platform.

Originally, the festival was purely religious. Monks would spend weeks in retreat. When they emerged, it was the custom for commoners to give them yogurt. Hence the festival’s name Shoton, meaning Yogurt.

And so the giant picture of Sakyamuni is revealed.

Devout Tibetans will offer hada – a white silk cloth , a symbol of purity and devotion– and walk around the mountain, hoping to be blessed.

To all Tibetans, this is a magical moment. A special connection is formed that nobody has ever fully explained, but can, they say, be felt rooted in their hearts, rooted in their unique world. As for us outsiders; well, we can almost breathe it in the air.

In the afternoon, the activities move to the Luo2 bu4 Lin2 ka3. Tibetans are traditionally a nomadic and herding people, and many families will camp out here for a few days, chatting with friends, eating yogurt, and watching the traditional opera. Living in tents is a must– as is plain to see during the holidays.

Tibetans live in vastly different styles. In the high-altitude North, there are no trees so the nomadic people live in tents. In farming communities, they live in mud brick houses. In southeast Tibet, they live in wood homes, and in Lhasa, they live in modern homes.

In general, Tibetan festivals have a strong ethnic and religious flavor. Ideology of people in this land differs greatly from others, doing good deeds and collecting merit, living for the next life, rather than for the present.

The families sing songs that tell of their history and past. On this festive occasion, Tibetans dressed in their best, will gather together and watch the Tibetan opera, which is based on Buddhist teachings and Tibetan history. It is so important to their culture that the name for Shoton festival is also known asTibetan Opera Festival. The performances last for about a week during the holidays. Tibetan opera dates back fourteen hundred years, almost to the dawn of Tibetan civilization.

The traditional drama is a combination of dances, chants, songs, and masks.

They’re all in their costumes and masks. If I’m not mistaken, since I don’t know what they are saying, it seems like they are performing one of their legends or stories.

To an outsider, Tibet can seem inscrutable, and rather distant. However, its mystery and beauty never fail to leave an indelible impression on all those daring enough to come and look.

And there we have it. That is Tibet, the place where modernity and tradition blend together, a mix of past and present, a place where Tibetans lived, and many others came from all over the world. I’m Yin and see you next time on our special.


The Tibetans are traditionally a nomadic people who reside on the Tibetan plateau, “the roof of the world”.

They are devout Tibetan Buddhists, whose lifestyles are heavily influenced by their religion.

The culture of the Tibetans is also shaped by the unique natural environment, which varies across the land, leading to regional differences.

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YouTube – Tibetan Music!

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