Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) partner, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), organized this year’s 23rd Shoton Festival at Norbulinkga Intstitute and TCV, Chauntra from 20-24 April 2018 for its Tibetan Self-Reliance and Resilience Program. TIPA’s mission of the festival was cultural institution strengthening and capacity and sustainability of local institutions serving Tibetan communities. CTA’s Director Wangdu Tsering and 412 artists attended, of which 234 were male and 178 were female varying from 10-83 years old.
The Shoton Festival is also known as the Yogurt Festival as the word Shoton is a mixture of the terms “sho” meaning curd and “ton” translating to a banquet. The event started in Tibet during the 5th Dalai Lama’s reign. It was originally held for the monks of Drepung Monastery in Tibet after their completion of a three-month retreat. They were served yogurt and entertained by an opera performance. The festival has held cultural significance since then and continues to occur even after China’s occupation of Tibet. The first Shoton Festival in exile was celebrated in 1959 at Musamari, India without the necessary costumes and masks.
Originally, the 23rd Shoton festival was to take place from 18-23 April but was rescheduled multiple times in honor of the 27 lives lost in the school bus accident and also due to an uncertain date of the private audience with His Holiness. Additionally, after the date was set, the rainy weather on the days of the event was unfavorable. However, TIPA was able to maintain their professionalism and the festival was carried out smoothly.
The following 11 opera troupes from India and Nepal performed for the 23rd Shoton.
- Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts presented opera singer Gyalsa Bhelsa at TIPA
- Bylakuppe Tibetan Opera Performing Art presented opera singer Nangsa Woebum at TCV, Chauntara
- Tibetan Homes Foundation presented opera singer Khenlopchoesum at Norbulingka Institute
- Odisha Opera Association presented opera singer Nangsa Woebum at Norbulingka Institute
- Bhandara Opera Association presented opera singer Drimey Kunden at TCV, Chauntara
- Kalimpong Opera Association performed opera singer Sukyi Nyima at Norbulinkga Insitute
- Nepal Opera Association presented opera singer Choegyal Norsang at TIPA
- Kollegal Opera Association presented opera singer Drowa Sangmo at TCV, Chauntara
- Mainpat Opera Association presented opera singer Gyalpo Goja at TIPA
- TCV, Chauntara presented opera singer Nangsa Woebum at TIPA.
The 24th Shoton Festival is planned to be held in Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement in Karnataka.