Tibet Shoton Festival

Celebrations for the traditional Shoton Festival begin in Lhasa

China's Tibet Autonomous Region marked the start of the Shoton festival on Wednesday with a traditional "sunning of the Buddha" ceremony.

The days ahead will see Tibetan opera performances, horse riding events, a photography contest and a walking assembly, as well as a huge Thangka painting bearing the image of the Buddha, which is displayed on a hillside near the Drepung monastery. 

Due to COVID-19 control and prevention measures, the activities will be held in different venues including Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas. 

Shoton Festival, which literally means "yoghurt banquet festival," is one of the most important festivals for Tibetans. It dates back to the 11th century when it began as a religious ceremony for local residents to offer yoghurt to monks completing their meditation retreats.