A huge Thangka Buddha portrait is exhibited at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Sept. 1, 2016. Buddhists and believers thronged Lhasa for the start of the traditional Shoton Festival on Thursday. The Shoton Festival, also known as the Yogurt Banquet Festival, is a week-long gala held since the 11th century. (Xinhua/Jigme Doje)
LHASA, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Celebrations for the traditional Shoton Festival began in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Thursday.
The Shoton Festival, also known as the Yogurt Banquet Festival, is a week-long extravaganza that 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.
This year's event will feature Tibetan opera performances, hiking, Buddha exhibitions, paintings and photos, according to Wu Yasong, Lhasa's deputy mayor.
Tsamjo, an 87-year-old Lhasa resident, attended the Buddha exhibition at the Drepung Monastery early Thursday morning.
"I got up at 3 a.m. to participate in the event," Tsamjo said.
At 7:30 a.m., more than 100 monks and buddhists took a giant thangka painting out of the monastery and put it on a platform for both visitors and believers.
"I come to worship the Buddha painting at the Drepung Monastery every year," said Ngawang, a Lhasa resident.
"For us believers, the Shoton Festival means a lot."
Last year, more than 200,000 Buddhists and people of other faiths came to Lhasa for the festival.