China bans major Tibetan festival to protect 70th ‘peaceful liberation’ activities

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large crowd of people attending the annual Shoton, or ‘Yogurt Feast’, festival at Drepung Monastery in the outskirts of Tibet’s capital Lhasa. The festival, which has a 17th century origin, is being held this year from Aug 25 to Sep 2.

(TibetanReview.net, Aug07’21) – Chinese authorities in Tibet’s capital Lhasa have cancelled all activities connected with the traditional Tibetan festival called “Shoton”, citing the need to protect activities connected with its so-called peaceful liberation of Tibet from the surge in Covid-19 cases in China.

A circular dated Aug 5, issued by the Lhasa city task force to combat the pandemic, has said that on account of the surge in Covid cases in 17 Chinese provinces and cities, all public-gathering events of the Shoton festival had been halted, according to Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Aug 6.

ICT cited the circular as saying the objective was “to ensure security and protect the activities connected to the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet as well as the wellbeing of all people in the city.”

Shoton, or the “Yogurt festival,” was to begin on Aug 8. This annual religious-cultural festival of Lhasa involves unrolling a huge “thangka” (religious painting) of the Buddha down a hillside by the Drepung Monastery and a range of Tibetan opera performances in the garden of the Norbulingka, the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas.

China has in the past been promoting the festival as a major tourist attraction and as a propaganda ploy to present an impression of a happy and prosperous Tibet. This year it was sought to be promoted as a part of the celebrations marking what China calls the 70th anniversary of the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet.

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