Life at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti

In the remote Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh in northern India, lies Sherab Choeling Nunnery, currently home to 42 Tibetan Buddhist nuns, many of whom are sponsored by Tibetan Nuns Project supporters.waterfall in Spiti Valley

group of nuns at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti

Sherab Choeling nuns in 2006

The nunnery is very secluded and lies in the village of Morang (between Manali and Tabor) at 4,000 meters altitude. It was built in 1995 by 20 nuns and their teacher with the intent of addressing the problem of the inadequate education of women in the region. The nunnery was consecrated in 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama who encouraged the nuns to study. There is a main building, a prayer hall, a classroom, an office, a kitchen and a storeroom. In 2006, Sherab Choeling Nunnery approached the Tibetan Nuns Project to help develop their institution and we accepted them into our sponsorship program.

Earlier this year we received lots of photos of daily life at the nunnery that we wanted to share with sponsors of the nuns and with all the Tibetan Nuns Project donors worldwide.

Although the area of Lahaul-Spiti is part of India, ethnically, the people are descended from Tibetans and the majority are devout Buddhists. They have preserved an ancient Tibetan culture, speaking an old dialect of the Tibetan language, as written in Tibetan scriptures.

Sherab Choeling nun teaching a woman in Spiti

Sherab Choeling nun teaching a woman in Spiti

Sherab Choeling Nunnery was the first religious educational project for Spiti women. Traditionally women in this region have suffered from many social and educational disadvantages. Many have been deprived of any kind of education, and this institute is the first in Spiti to provide women with the opportunity to overcome these disadvantages.

Sherab Choeling is a non-sectarian nunnery that recognizes the beauty and value in all Buddhist traditions. The nuns at follow a 17-year study program. The curriculum is designed to educate the nuns in Buddhist philosophy, meditation, Tibetan language and literature, in addition to a basic education in English, Hindi and math. The broad education is intended to provide the nuns with necessary skills to educate future generations of nuns and the communities from which they come.Buddhist nuns studying outdoors Sherab Choeling 2014

Many young girls seek admission to Sherab Choeling, but due to lack of facilities and sponsors, it is not possible for all to gain entrance. The Tibetan Nuns Project helps by raising awareness, finding sponsors for the nuns, and helping them to fundraise for the further development of the institute.
Young Tibetan Buddhist nuns in class

young Buddhist nuns debating Spiti

This year started with 14 new nuns in the nunnery including three 5-year-olds. Along with Tibetan classes, the younger nuns are also taught mathematics and Hindi up to 5th standard, after which the nuns are introduced to English language classes.

young Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti 2014

Tibetan Buddhist nun in snowfall at Sherab Choeling NunneryThe nuns have difficult living conditions. They often face long harsh winters and heavy snowfalls. During winter the region is cut off from neighboring villages so the nuns must stock up their daily supplies well before the onset of cold weather.Tibetan Buddhist nun working in kitchen

During the coldest months, the nuns hold their classes, prayers and meetings in the kitchen because it is warmer and helps to save wood.building prayer hall Sherab Choeling Nunnery

This year, the nuns were able to do more work to complete the new prayer hall. Construction of the prayer hall began several years ago but was suspended in 2012 for lack of funds. The new prayer hall is nearly finished with plans to turn the old nunnery block into a small 3-room retreat center for the nuns.Tibetan Buddhist nun working in greenhouse Sherab Choeling 2014

Several years ago, people from the nearby village donated a piece of land to the nuns where the nuns can grow spinach, beans and potatoes. With help of volunteers, the nuns have been able to set up three greenhouses where they mostly grow spinach. The head nun has also donated her share of a field to the nunnery so the nuns have been able to grow peas and wheat.

The nuns take a one-month annual holiday, during which most return to their families in nearby villages.

We’d like to thank all our sponsors of nuns at Sherab Choeling for their support. We still need more sponsors. To sponsor a nun please visit https://tnp.org/youcanhelp/sponsor/nuns and rainbow at Sherab Choeling

3 thoughts on “Life at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti

  1. Grace Baillie

    To all the nuns at Sherab Choeling: You are all amazing young ladies! I am reading about you on the blog. I am a new practicing Buddhist at age 61! I have been with my teacher since April 2014.We are a lay order of the Kadam lineage and our teachings are passed down from Shakyamuni Buddha. Our center is in San Jose, California, United States. Some of us go on retreats in Katmandu, Nepal, but I have not been there yet. One day we will have a center there also. I hope to go there one day. If anyone would like to write to me I would be very happy to get your letters and happy to write back!

    Much love, Grace

    Reply
  2. carol moss

    Such extraordinary pictures. I a am awed by the hardship of life in Spiti and inspired by the grit and devotion of those lovely women and children. They are a light unto the world.

    Reply

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