DHARAMSALA, April 6: The 20th Shoton festival concluded successfully yesterday at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) in Dharamsala with a performance befitting of a grand finale performed by the artistes of TIPA on the life of Lord Buddha.
The opera on the life of Lord Buddha is a new addition to the list of Tibetan opera stories and was performed for the first time in the history of Tibetan opera tradition.
Thousands of Tibetans and foreigners gathered at the TIPA ground for the final opera performance which was attended by among others, Kalon for Department of Religion and Culture, Pema Chinjor as Chief Guest, Speaker Penpa Tsering, members of the kashag (Tibetan Cabinet), members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and officials of the Central Tibetan Administration.
Addressing the gathering, Kalon Pema Chinjor extended his appreciation to all the opera associations who participated in the festival for their efforts towards preserving the centuries old Tibetan cultural heritage of lhamo (Tibetan opera).
“A grant of four hundred thousand rupees, which was proposed by the Kashag and approved by the Tibetan Parliament during its budget session to revive the tradition of opera in exile, have been provided to each opera association,” he said.
This year’s festival included performances by opera associations from Tibetan Homes Foundation Mussorie, Kalimpong, Mundgod, Kollegal, TCV Chauntra, Odisha, Bandara, Bylakuppe, and Mainpat from India, and, Solukumbu and Kathmandu from Nepal.
Though the Tibetan Opera (Shoton) festival is a centuries-old tradition, which has its roots in ancient India, the origin of the festival in Tibet could be traced to the founding of Drepung Monastery by Jamyang Choeje, the disciple of Je Tsongapa. It was observed in conjunction with the end of the summer retreat of the monastery during which curd is offered to the monks. It was known then as Drepung Shoton. Later during the Great Fifth Dalai Lama this festival grew into to a full fledged festival of Tibetan opera performances which continues to be celebrated as Shoton.
In exile, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts organised Shoton festival for the first time in 1993 at the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, before leaving for Japan for a series of teachings and conferences, graced the first day of the 20th Shoton festival on Mar 27 and also met with the members of the participating opera troupes.