On February 16, 2017, the nuns and staff at Dolma Ling Nunnery in northern India held a special celebration in honor of the six Geshema graduates from the nunnery.
The six nuns returned to the nunnery for the ceremony, which included the offering of white katak (or khata), the ceremonial scarves that are offered as a sign of respectful greeting.
A smiling Geshema nun is almost submerged under a huge pile of katak. As part of the ceremony in their honor, the six Geshema graduates sat and received hundreds of white kataks (or khatas) from the nuns, teachers, and staff of Dolma Ling. These ceremonial scarves are offered as a sign of respect and they symbolize purity and compassion.
Also a part of the event was special debate session, called a Dam-cha, in which all of the nuns of the nunnery had a chance to challenge the Geshema’s with debates on difficult philosophical points.
The six Geshema graduates from Dolma Ling are seated during the special debate session.
Traditional Tibetan Buddhist debate is a integral part of monastic education. The nuns of Dolma Ling take turns debating with the six Geshema graduates.
On December 22nd, 2016, 20 Tibetan nuns made history when they received their Geshema degrees from His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a ceremony in Mundgod, South India. The degree is the highest in the tradition and is equivalent to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
A dream come true. The six graduates are seated with Rinchen Khando Choegyal, the Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project. Rinchen Khando Choegyal has been working tirelessly for over 30 years to help Tibetan Buddhist nuns and is a former Minister of Education in the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, founding President of the Women’s Tibetan Association, and sister-in-law of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The six Geshema graduates from Dolma Ling Nunnery are:
- Dechen Choedon
- Delek Dolma
- Tenzin Kunsel
- Delek Palmo
- Tenzin Palmo
- Damshung Sangmo
A community celebrates. The nuns and staff of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute are seated with the six Geshema graduates from the nunnery and, in the center, Tibetan Nuns Project Director, Rinchen Khando Choegyal. To her right is Venerable Lobsang Dechen, Co-Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project, herself a nun, who has worked tirelessly for 25 years towards this goal.
Today these women, once virtually illiterate, are empowered to become important teachers, leaders, administrators, and decision makers in the nunneries and in the Tibetan exile community at large.
The six Geshemas along with the entire group who arrived in Dharamsala together in early 1991.
While there is much to celebrate about the 20 nuns becoming Geshemas, including the six from Dolma Ling Nunnery, there is also so much more to be done to make sure that other nuns receive the education they need to succeed.
The Geshema graduates from Dolma Ling with their teachers.