Every year in July and August, local Tibetan people in the Litang region come together to celebrate their culture. Escaping out to the grasslands, they leave behind their houses and towns in order to remember their traditions. When you wander among the people, they joyously invite you to be a part of the celebrations, to share in their way of life and to make new friends.
I found myself staying in the grasslands over the course of three nights, and upon arrival, I was invited to stay with a local family and to eat with them in their tents. They willingly shared their blankets, drinks and meals with me, and discussed their traditional ways of life. They told me how parts of their nomadic history is being forgotten. They talked about how they fear that their traditions will one day disappear, and why it is so important that they celebrate it and pass it on generation to generation.
I saw children as young as two years old being taught to ride horses, and I saw the admiration in the eyes of the young teenagers as their fathers pulled off amazing feats of horsemanship. I saw mothers teaching their daughters to dance and sing traditional songs. Most importantly, though, I saw families and communities joining together to remember and pass on the lifestyle that served as the core of their community for many generations.
The horse riding at the festival is fantastic, and the dances and songs are entertaining and joyous, but what truly makes these festivals amazing is the sense of community that surrounds you while you are there.