Jul 24, 2017

Tibet: Historic Celebration in Rebgong Revitalises Culture and Tradition

Photo courtesy of Radio Free Asia

An annual cultural celebration held from 9 July to 20 July in Rebgong County saw a large turnout, signaling a renewal of its community’s participation in Tibetan traditions. The celebration, Rebgong Lurol, saw a surge in the number of young participants taking part in all areas of the festivities, including religious rituals. These events are critical in that they revive distinctly Tibetan customs and display an assertion of Tibetan identity, which are both threatened by ongoing Chinese repression and religious discrimination.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:

Tibetan residents of Qinghai’s Rebgong county turned out this week in large numbers for an annual celebration of Tibetan culture, with many more wearing traditional dress this year than in the past, sources said.

The annual festival called Rebgong Lurol, which began on July 9 [2017] and ended on Thursday [20 July 2017], reflected a growing interest in the area this year in Tibetan identity and values, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“This year, the change was particularly noticeable among the young Tibetans taking part, with many showing a preference for wearing traditional dress,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It was also observed that the consumption of alcohol has decreased among the young, and that there was less gambling,” the source said.

“Participants and spectators alike were dressed in colorful traditional clothes and got along in an atmosphere of harmony and friendship with a growing wish to embrace tradition,” he said.

The annual festival has been held in Rebgong since ancient times, with different villages in the area presenting cultural performances and taking part in games, another local source said.

“People of all ages and from all walks of life come together to burn incense and conduct religious rituals,” the source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

Prayers are also offered to invoke a mountain spirit to ward off ill fortune and prevent diseases affecting local livestock, he said.

Traditional gatherings in Tibetan-populated regions of China have greatly increased in size in recent years, as thousands of Tibetans gather to assert their national identity in the face of Beijing’s cultural and political domination.

Though China in recent years has frequently allowed the holding of Tibetan festivals as a sign of stability and “progress” in Tibetan areas, security forces often monitor and sometimes close down events involving large crowds, fearing spontaneous protests against Chinese rule.