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Thangka adorns hillside during Shoton

By Hou Liqiang and Daqiong in Lhasa,Zhang Yi in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-22 07:26

In the morning, monks and believers carry the rolled-up thangka from the monastery on the opening day of Shoton Festival, a traditional annual gala in Lhasa, the Tibet autonomous region. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/China Daily]

Champa Tsering, 52, of Lhasa, said his family celebrates Shoton Festival every year.

"My family and I went to the thangka exhibition at Drepung Monastery at about 6 am today and watched Tibetan Opera at around 10 am. We won't go home until the end of this evening's celebrations," he said.

In addition to exhibitions, Tibetan Opera performances and demonstrations of Tibetan equestrianism, the weeklong extravaganza also includes hiking, yogurt-eating and beer-drinking contests and a Tibetan-style fashion show.

Shoton Festival, also known as the Yogurt Banquet Festival, has been held since the 11th century. It was originally a religious occasion when locals would offer yogurt to monks who had finished meditation retreats.

"Sound development of cultural affairs is one of the strengths of Tibet, and remarkable progress has been made in this since late 2012. The central government is investing 1.5 billion yuan ($23 million) in the region's cultural sector from 2015 to 2020, five times the investment of the previous five years. In the same period, departments of the central and regional governments and other organizations are contributing more than 2 billion yuan to the regions' cultural development," said Zhou Hongyang, deputy head of the regional Cultural Affairs Bureau.

There are more than 140 professional Tibetan Opera groups and 2,446 amateur groups across the region, according to the bureau.

In the first half of this year, 8.6 million tourists have visited Tibet, a 25.3 year-on-year increase, generating about 9.3 billion yuan in revenue.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


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