According to reports from the western part of China, the centuries-old Tibetan yogurt festival was ruined this year by a massive police presence and stringent restrictions on Tibetans.
Tibetan religion and culture give yogurt a significant role. It has a long and storied history in Tibet, where it is traditionally made using yak milk rather than cow milk.
One of the largest celebrations in Tibet, it dates back to the 17th century when Tibetans would celebrate the end of the Buddhist monks’ yearly retreats by giving them yogurt.
According to the reports, Buddhists from all over the world visited the Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, to see an enormous thangka depicting the Buddha that covered 500 square meters (5,382 square feet).
However, they also reported that a significant number of Chinese police were there to monitor the masses and had set up inspection stations around the streets of Lhasa to examine the identification documents of the worshippers.
With a tight hold on Tibet maintained by Chinese authorities, political activity and the peaceful expression of Tibetan cultural and religious identity are both severely stifled.
Tibetans routinely voice concerns about discrimination and human rights violations at the hands of Chinese authorities and measures they believe are designed to wipe out Tibetan culture and history.
Traditional Tibetan opera, ethnic music and dances, cultural displays, and picnics complement the festival’s religious events.
In addition, a directive issued to government personnel in Lhasa forbids them from participating in religious activities or meetings linked to the holiday, as well as any acts that show disrespect for the communist government of China.
Retirees from the government are not permitted to attend religious services or visit local monasteries. They are obligated to teach their kids to be loyal to the Chinese Communist Party and to respect the socialist values it stands for.