20th Shotön Opera Festival Begins
Aprile 5th, 2015 by admin

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is offered a traditional welcome on his arrival at TIPA to attend the opening day of the 20th Shotön Festival in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 27, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is offered a traditional welcome on his arrival at TIPA to attend the opening day of the 20th Shotön Festival in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 27, 2015. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

20th Shotön Opera Festival Begins

Dharamsala, HP, India, 27 March 2015 – This morning, His Holiness the Dalai Lama presided over the opening of the 20th Shotön Festival in exile. The last such celebration of Tibetan opera in Tibet took place in 1958 and the tradition was revived on His Holiness’s advice in 1993. As he drove from his residence to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), the road was lined with Tibetans and other well-wishers, waves of white silk scarves in their hands as the early morning sun illuminated their joyful, smiling faces.

His Holiness was received at the gate to TIPA by the Director Wangdu Tsering Pesur and fully costumed artistes presented the ‘chema changpu’ offering. Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay and his cabinet colleagues, the Speaker of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies and the Chief Justice Commissioner were also present to welcome him. His Holiness made his way through the happy crowd, greeting friends as he went, and took his seat in the balcony viewing box prepared for him.

To begin with there was a call for a minute’s silence in tribute to the martyrs who have died for the cause of Tibet. Next, a statue of Thang Tong Gyalpo, the 14th century adept, generally credited with founding the Ache Lhamo opera tradition was installed on the altar at the centre of the performing ground. Director Wangdu Tsering, speaking for everyone present, expressed gratitude that His Holiness was able to attend.

On this first day of the festival, each of the nine participating troupes was to perform an extract from their larger performance. These extracts began with a debut performance by a troupe from the Sharkhumbu region of Nepal.
In a brief interview with the BBC, His Holiness said: “We Tibetans have our own civilization, much influenced by India, as evidenced by the 300 volumes of scriptures translated largely from Sanskrit and Pali. Today, only we Tibetans have a complete transmission of the Nalanda tradition. This is of interest not only to Tibetans, but also to our Chinese Buddhist brothers and sisters and others.
“Although religious practice is a personal matter, Tibetan Buddhist culture involves the community. It’s a culture of peace and non-violence and today a culture of peace is in everyone’s interest. Buddhist culture includes a strong sense of concern for others. Indeed, it also involves concern for the natural environment, taking account of the animals, birds and insects that are even more affected by climate change than we human beings. From when we first became refugees we have tried to preserve this culture, trying to combine traditional values with modern ways. As a Tibetan social gathering this festival is part of that effort.
“From my own point of view, when I was young I especially enjoyed the Shotön because it gave me an opportunity to spend time with my mother and I looked forward to it as five days off from my lessons. I’m happy to see that the younger generation still take pleasure in it now.”
Speaking to an Indian reporter, His Holiness said: “An important aspect of Tibetan Buddhist culture, a message from the Nalanda tradition, concerns dependent origination. This is something the Buddha taught and that Nagarjuna elaborated on. Today, when the world is increasingly interdependent this idea is very relevant. It encourages us to appreciate our oneness as members of the human family. Many of the problems we face today derive from our sense of self-centredness and the destructive emotions that spring from that. If we were to view the whole of humanity as interdependent, there’d be no room to see some people as enemies. What’s more, many scientists are attracted to the notion of interdependence.
“I always say that our knowledge came from India, that Indians are our gurus and we are the disciples. Moreover, since we have kept the knowledge and culture we received from you alive, we can claim to have been reliable disciples.
“Several of these opera stories are based on Jataka Tales, the stories of the Buddha’s deeds as a bodhisattva in his lives before becoming a Buddha. These examples of generosity and kindness can bring tears to the eyes.”
Speaking to the teachers who are involved in training the various opera troupes that have been created in different Tibetan settlements, His Holiness said that it seems that this opera tradition is something uniquely Tibetan. He thanked them all for their hard work keeping it alive. He suggested that in addition to maintaining the operas that used to be performed in Tibet, they might consider producing new ones, perhaps more like the plays and dramas performed in the West. He suggested that when they perform in different places in India and abroad there could be an opportunity by this means to create a greater awareness of Tibet and Tibetans.
After lunch, His Holiness posed for photographs with the various opera troupes who have come to Dharamsala for the festival and chatted with their members young and old. As he was leaving, the Tibetan Homes Foundation, Mussoorie troupe were performing an extract from the opera Khen Lob Chösum and His Holiness took the opportunity to offer silk scarves to the three main characters, the Abbot (Shantarakshita), Adept (Guru Padmasambhava) and Religious King (Trisong Deutsan); a fitting and auspicious note on which end his visit.

Comments are closed

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa