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Toasting Songs at a Tibetan Banquet

by anonymous

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The hospitality of the Tibetans is as famous as Mt. Qomolangma. And such hospitality is best demonstrated at a Tibetan banquet.

Guests from inland provinces are invited to drink all the different types of alcohol of the civilized world: spirits, wines, barley wines, and beers, under the guise that moderate drinking can offset altitude sickness.

But moderation requires reason, something easily engulfed by the flames of passion, especially when you are face-to-face with a Tibetan singing a toast song to you.  If you are interested in it, you can have China vacation deals to Tibet. 

Standing in front of us is a Tibetan "singing prince". Soon after the first few lines flowed out of his mouth, I knew this is someone who has long risen from shyness and really appreciated the joy of singing. He stood relaxed, holding a glass of wine with one hand and touching his chest with the other; he brought his emotion up from the bottom of his heart. His facial expression, eye contact, and body language, shipped his emotion right into our hearts. Contagious, magical, we all accepted his "warm blessing" by downing our cups of wine.

A few songs later, you will probably feel your stomach heating up, your cheeks will blush, but you are still sure of yourself that you can count from one to ten. It is only by then you discover the whole thing is only the beginning of something...big.

Following the heels of their champions, hospitable Tibetans will sing to you in groups. The chorus has its charm compared to the solo, and it is quite interesting to discover that even among artistically-talented people as the Tibetans, not every one of them, can sing very well, and some of them are even quite shy. But still, you can feel their utmost good wishes as you finish your cups. You should know it before your popular China tours to Tibet.

Don't complain that you don't have a half-time break. It's not part of the experience. The momentum is soon followed, led again by gifted Tibetan "singing princes and princesses". At this stage you have probably forgotten where your hotel is, and your head is a little heavier than normal which is now supported by your forearms. But it is not to be denied that such a state is perfect to appreciate the grand landscapes, passionate affection, and hilarious gatherings as depicted by the beautiful lyrics. And as the flowers of happiness blossom in your heart, you search the entire room for any remaining alcohol and finish it right up. 

Such is the state of consumption that your eyes can barely focus on the wine glass which is only inches before your face. Your eyelids have developed a tendency of closing on their own, your ears have resonated with all the amazing lyrics and melodies: masculine ones that reminded you of the harsh, raw, laborious life on Tibetan farms; affectionate ones that put you in the heart of a shepherd girl missing her lover, who is absent for months away from home on business.

The final and finishing blow came from the young and beautiful Tibetan girls or "Zhuo Mala" as they are affectionately called. Those angels of the plateau have the voice of a nightingale, and the looks of a frost lotus. They have a special way of toasting, that is, the guest can choose to listen to their toasting songs and finish one cup by drinking three times, or pick up a favorite song for them to sing and finish three cups in one consecutive move. I don't know what your choice would be under such circumstances, but for me, I never turn down the toast from a beauty, but I must tell you my stomach always protests such a choice the next day.

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