Helping the Nuns: A Little Goes a Very Long Way!

A little goes a very long way when you support Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India!

In this blog post, we want to share the cost of some basic food items at the largest nunnery we support so that you can see the impact of your support. We are extremely grateful to those who sponsor a nun and our monthly donors.  If you would like to sponsor a nun the cost is just $1 a day and we are always looking for sponsors.

Inside the kitchen at Dolma Ling Nunnery by Robin Groth

Inside the kitchen at Dolma Ling Nunnery by Robin Groth

Here is a list of items that $5 could buy at Dolma Ling:
FLOUR: 28 pounds or 14 kg of rice
NOODLES: 13 packages
COOKING OIL: one gallon or almost 4 litres
RICE: almost 14 pounds or 6 kilos
POTATOES: 60 pounds or 28 kilos
COOKING GAS: almost half a cylinder
ONIONS: over 50 pounds or 22 kg

Rice

Rice is a staple food in all the Tibetan Buddhist nunneries we support in India. One of the most common meals for Tibetans in exile is rice and dal. Here’s a recipe for you. This simple vegetarian dish is nutritious and inexpensive.

Just $5 will buy about 14 pounds or 6 kilos of rice. Each month at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, the nuns use about 1,411 lbs or 640 kg of rice to feed the 270 nuns plus staff. The cost of the rice for the whole month is $507.

$10 buys 28 pounds or 13 kg of rice

Tibetan Buddhist nun checking rice

A nun on kitchen duty at Dolma Ling checks rice. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

Flour

Flour, like rice, is used daily at the nunneries to make bread, noodles, and steamed buns. A donation of $5 will purchase 31 pounds (14kg) of flour and the nuns use over 1,000 pounds of flour per month.

$13 provides a day’s flour for about 300 nuns and staff

Tibetan Buddhist nuns in kitchen using flour Brian Harris copy

A few years ago donors helped the nuns purchase dough-making machines. Until then all the kneading had to be done by hand.

Potatoes

All the nunneries have a vegetarian diet and potatoes are important staple food. The nuns at Dolma Ling use 600 kilos or 1,323 pounds of potatoes a month and the cost is just $108.

$5 buys 60 lbs or 28 kg of potatoes

peeling potatoes at Dolma Ling Nunnery

The nuns at Dolma Ling use over 1,000 pounds of potatoes a month. That’s a lot of peeling! $5 buys about 28 lbs of potatoes.

Onions

Some Buddhists follow a strict diet that avoids aliums including onions, garlic, and chives but Tibetan Buddhists use onions and garlic in their cooking, especially in exile in India and Nepal. India is one of the largest producers and consumers of onions, however the price of onions fluctuates.

$5 can buy over 50 lbs of onions

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute chopping onions ⓒ Robin Groth

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute chopping onions ⓒ Robin Groth

Other necessities at the nunneries include cooking oil, tomatoes, other vegetables, dals of various types, thukpa (noodles) and canisters of cooking gas.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns cooking at Dolma Ling

Tibetan Buddhist nuns on kitchen duty at Dolma Ling. Photo by Brian Harris. Thank you for supporting the nuns!

Thank you again for helping the nuns!

2024 Geshema Exams: Send a Good Luck Message!

This summer, 147 Tibetan Buddhist nuns are taking various levels of their Geshema exams. You can send the nuns a good luck message by commenting on this blog. We’ll collect the messages and send them to the exam location.

The Geshema degree is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa tradition and is equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. It is the same as the Geshe degree for monks but the ending “ma” marks it as referring to a woman. The degree, until recently reserved for men, was only formally opened to women in 2012.

Tibetan Buddhist nun holding Geshema hat

Photo of a Geshema holding the yellow hat that signifies her degree. Detail of photo by Olivier Adam.

This year’s exams are being held in Mundgod, South India at Jangchub Choeling Nunnery because Dolma Ling could not provide enough space. One of our current projects is to build 16 more double-bed rooms at Dolma Ling for Geshema graduates who wish to do the advanced Tantric studies required to become fully qualified teachers of their tradition.

The 2024 Geshema exams will take place from July 21st to August 15th. Each year, the candidates gather in advance for a one-month study period before the roughly two weeks of written and oral (debate) exams start.

Geshema, nun Tibetan Buddhism, 2023 Geshema exams

A nun taking her Geshema exams in 2023. TNP’s Founding Director and Special Advisor Rinchen Khando Choegyal said, “Educating women is powerful… It’s about enabling the nuns to be teachers in their own right and to take on leadership roles at a critical time in our nation’s history.”

The Geshema degree enables Tibetan Buddhist nuns to become teachers, leaders, and role models. It makes these dedicated women eligible to assume various leadership roles in their monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not open to women.

Geshemas teaching Tibetan children Feb 2022

Each winter, Geshemas at Dolma Ling help Tibetan refugee children learn Tibetan.

Geshes and Geshemas are the most educated monastics, carrying much of the responsibility for preserving the Tibetan religion and culture.

Once again, there is a record-breaking number of nuns taking various levels of the rigorous four-year exams. The nuns are from seven nunneries in India and Nepal. Here is the breakdown:
1st year exams: 45 nuns
2nd year: 37 nuns
3rd year: 52 nuns
4th and final year: 13 nuns

There are 15 more nuns than last year’s record 132 and 53 more nuns than in 2022. No exams were held in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID. All being well, there will be 13 more Geshemas formally graduating this fall.

chart showing number of nuns taking Geshema exams over the years

There’s a dramatic increase in nuns taking their Geshema exams. The Geshemas are paving the way for other nuns to follow in their footsteps and the momentum is building. Not long ago, this increased status of nuns was almost unimaginable and we are so grateful for your support to educate and empower these dedicated women!

As of June 2024, 60 nuns hold the Geshema degree. Here’s a list of the Geshema graduations since the formal approval in 2012:

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling depart for south India to take their Geshema exams.

Nuns from Dolma Ling departing on June 21st for their Geshema exams in Mundgod, South India. The nuns who took the photos wrote, “Courage, determination, and faith accompany our nuns on their exam journey.”

Here’s a video by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns of the 2023 Geshema exams. Can’t see the video? Click here.

We are extremely grateful to the 159 donors to the Geshema Endowment which funds the annual exams including the Pema Chodron Foundation, the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Frederick Family Foundation, and the Donaldson Charitable Trust. We are also very grateful to everyone who sponsors a nun and helps them on their path.

Geshemas teaching Tibetan children Feb 2022

When you’re facing big challenges, it’s great to know that people are sending you support. Nuns at Dolma Ling reading good luck messages in 2016. Share a message for 2024 by commenting on the blog.

The Geshema Exam Process

To be eligible to take their Geshema exams, the nuns must first complete at least 17 years of study.

The Geshema examination process is rigorous. It involves four years of written and debate exams as well as the completion and defence of a thesis. Candidates are examined on the entirety of their 17-year course of study of the Five Great Canonical Texts. They must achieve a score of at least 75 per cent during their studies to be eligible to sit the exams.

“The fact that growing numbers of women are achieving equality with men in the highest levels of Buddhist monasticism, by earning the equivalent of doctorate degrees, is joyous and of enormous importance to the world,” says Steve Wilhelm, a Tibetan Nuns Project board member. “This means that women monastics will be leading more monastic institutions, and will be teaching other women and men. Humanity needs this gender equity if we are to navigate perilous times ahead.”

Tibetan Buddhist nuns read good luck messages Geshema exams

Nuns cluster around the bulletin board at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute to read good luck messages sent from around the world to nuns taking their exams in 2018. Photo by the Nuns’ Media Team.

Please send a good luck message to the nuns by commenting below on this blog!

The Textbooks for Nuns Have Arrived!

Thank you to everyone who donated to purchase textbooks for the Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India. Four of the seven nunneries in northern India have already received them and the nuns are delighted with their new books on English, math, science, and general knowledge. Here are photos of the nuns receiving and using the textbooks.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns with new textbooks

Thank you for purchasing new textbooks for the nuns! As you can see, they are delighted. Photo taken in May 2024 by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

At Dolma Ling, home now to 270 nuns, the nuns have received 274 new textbooks. The teachers there needed higher grade books which were not previously available and grammar and composition books.

new textbooks for Tibetan Buddhist nuns

Photos from May 2024 taken by Robin Groth showing some of the new textbooks in use at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute.

At Geden Choeling, the oldest nunnery in Dharamsala, the 200 nuns and their teachers are excited to have good sets of books. Geden Choeling’s abbot wants the nuns to learn math, but the nunnery didn’t have any math textbooks until now. Thanks to the generous support of Tibetan Nuns Project donors the  Geden Choeling nuns now have these 362 textbooks.

Nuns at Geden Choeling nunnery carefully protect their new textbooks

Nuns at Geden Choeling nunnery carefully protect their new textbooks. Tibetans have a deep respect for books. Photo by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

Eight boxes containing 369 textbooks were delivered in May to Shugsep Nunnery and Institute, home to about 100 nuns. The Shugsep nuns needed math, science, and English grammar and composition books. The English teacher also asked for help to improve the stock of English textbooks so the students could complete coursework up to Grade 8. The nunnery’s last big purchase of books was many years ago and those books were so well-loved and used that they were falling apart.

new textbooks for Tibetan Buddhist nuns

Nuns at Dolma Ling using some of the new textbooks. A single book can transform hundreds of lives over the years and we are very grateful to the donors who funded the textbooks. Photo by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

The textbook order for Tilokpur Nunnery has been placed and includes a series of books called Cherry Blossoms for the new class of 15 young nuns who joined the nunnery this spring. Tilokpur nunnery has one English teacher who teaches all eight classes so she is pretty busy but most appreciative of the books.

education of Tibetan Buddhist nuns

The mission of the Tibetan Nuns Project is to educate and empower nuns of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as teachers and leaders; and to establish, strengthen, and support educational institutions to preserve the Tibetan religion and culture. Photo by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

The books for Sakya College for Nuns are being purchased soon. The textbooks for Dorjee Zong Nunnery in the remote area of Zanskar will be purchased this summer and brought there. We’ll report on these in the fall.

boxes of new textbooks for Tibetan Buddhist nunneries

Boxes of new textbooks for Tibetan Buddhist nunneries.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan Nuns Project will continue to work with all seven of the nunneries to establish good library practices and to have library time for informal reading of fiction and non-fiction books. Dolma Ling library is functioning well and the nuns regularly borrow books and read them. The teachers at Shugsep Nunnery will bring their classes to the library and display a range of books so the students can look through them easily and choose what they would like to read.

Textbooks needed for Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India

Nuns at Tilokpur. Traditionally Tibetan Buddhist nuns have not had equal access to education. The textbooks will help educate and empower the nuns to become teachers and leaders.

A Geshema’s Journey: The Remarkable Story of Delek Wangmo

Geshema Delek Wangmo’s journey to become a Geshema, a teacher, and a role model has been long and arduous. Her remarkable life story exemplifies resilience, determination, and a deep commitment to spiritual growth, inspiring others on their paths to enlightenment.

Here is her story.

Portrait of Geshema Delek Wangmo taken at Dolma Ling Nunnery in 2022 by Olivier Adam

Portrait of Geshema Delek Wangmo now a senior nun and teacher at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Photo by Olivier Adam, 2022. She did not go to school in Tibet but spent her time tending the family’s sheep, yaks, goats, and horses.

Delek Wangmo was born in 1970 into a semi-nomadic family in Detsa in Lithang province in Eastern Tibet. “My family includes my parents, one elder sister, and three younger sisters,” she said. “One of my sisters is a nun staying with me at Dolma Ling. I became a nun at the age of 15 when I received my nun’s vows from Lama Tenzin Delek of Detsa Monastery. Since our village didn’t have any schools and education opportunities I did not go to school and spent my time in Tibet tending our animals.”

A 950-Mile Pilgrimage With Prostrations

In 1989, Geshe Delek Wangmo embarked on a challenging spiritual journey with her Lama and other nuns. They made their way from Lithang to Lhasa by prostrating themselves, covering about 950 miles on a mountain road. This journey took one and a half years, reflecting her unwavering determination and dedication to her spiritual life.

Lithang nun pilgrims after escaping to India

Lithang nun pilgrims after escaping to India in 1990. Delek Wangmo was illiterate until she was 19. “I started my education on the pilgrimage. Along the way our Lama gave us teachings and I learned the Tibetan alphabet for the first time.”

“The pilgrimage was hard, as we had to cover the distance from Lithang to Lhasa by prostrations. We would do prostrations in the rain and our clothes got wet and dirty and we could not wash them out every day.”

“In spite of the hardship, I learned much from my time on the pilgrimage. I started my education on the pilgrimage. Along the way our Lama gave us teachings and I learned the Tibetan alphabet.”

“It was difficult because we had to study at night and often did not have enough light to study by. But once I learned the alphabet, the rest of my studying got much easier for me. I started memorizing prayers once I had learned to read.”

Portrait-of-Geshema-Delek-Wangmo-by-Olivier-Adam.

Geshema Delek Wangmo teaching at Dolma Ling in 2022. She said, “Looking back to where I started and what I have achieved now is something very special in my life. I feel satisfied and relieved now. When I fled Tibet I never expected such things in life or that I would have these kinds of opportunities in such a good place.” Photo by Olivier Adam

The pilgrimage did not turn out as planned when authorities refused the nuns permission to visit the holy city of Lhasa. “When we got near Lhasa our Rinpoche tried very hard to get passes for all of us to go into the city of Lhasa but in vain. We were told that we could not go into the city because of some big meeting there. I was very upset and angry because of all the effort our Lama had made and now it did not matter. Then we left for Shigatse, another holy city in the south, to visit Tashi Lunpo Monastery.”

Geshema Delek Wangmo teaching at Dolma Ling 2019

Delek Wangmo earned her Geshema degree in 2017 and was hired as a teacher at Dolma Ling in 2019. She says, “I would like to thank the many people who have supported me in completing my education.”

“Very soon after that the Rinpoche said that we would be going to India and that it would probably be possible to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama. That made me happy again and excited. My spirits lifted and I was ready to do whatever was necessary. The journey to Nepal and eventually to India took us about a month.”

Escape to India

In the end, in 1990 she and a large group of other nuns escaped from Tibet via Nepal. In Varanasi, she saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama and realized a dream by receiving teachings and an audience.

At the time there was a large number of nuns coming from Tibet and the few existing Tibetan Buddhist nunneries in exile were overcrowded and unable to accept many new nuns. The Tibetan Nuns Project, under the direction of Rinchen Khandro Choegyal, rented houses for the nuns to stay in and began the long process of building two new nunneries, Dolma Ling and Shugsep.

For about three years, Geshe Delek Wangmo and other nuns lived in a rental house, studying in the early morning and late evening while actively participating in the construction of their new nunnery, Dolma Ling.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns studying outdoors no classrooms

This photo from our archives shows the early days before the nuns had classrooms. They studied in the open air or tents and helped with the construction of Dolma Ling Nunnery.

“The living conditions were not so good in the beginning. We lived in overcrowded rooms and the study program wasn’t so well organized because, during that time, the number of new nuns coming from Tibet increased every month. Slowly things improved. The construction of the present Dolma Ling Nunnery began in 1993 and we moved into our new housing block in October 1994.”

Life and Accomplishments at Dolma Ling

At last, thanks to the generosity of Tibetan Nuns Project donors and the hard work of the nuns themselves, the nuns had proper housing, a kitchen, and a prayer hall. With the establishment of the new facility, they could follow a structured education curriculum, leading to higher degrees.

In 2012, the Geshema degree was only formally opened to women. Comparable to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, it is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Geshema degree is the same as the Geshe degree for monks. The ending “ma” marks it as referring to a woman. Delek Wangmo earned her Geshema degree in 2017.

Geshema Delek Wangmo teaching TCV students about monastic debate Sept 2023

Geshema Delek Wangmo teaching Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) students about monastic debate in September 2023. She is a role model for other nuns and the Tibetan community.

Geshema Delek Wangmo’s educational journey in India has spanned 23 years including 18 years of dedicated study and four years of rigorous examinations to attain the prestigious Geshema degree and an additional one-year Tantric studies program at Gyuto Tantric University.

Geshema Delek Wangmo and Geshema Tenzin Kunsel teaching Gurukul program June 2023

In June 2023, Geshema Delek Wangmo and Geshema Tenzin Kunsel spoke to Indian students during the 27th annual Gurukul program which seeks to revive the centuries-old relationship of exchange of ideas between Indians and Tibetans.

Since 2019, Geshe Delek Wangmo has been sharing her profound wisdom and teachings at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Her life story exemplifies resilience, determination, and a deep commitment to spiritual growth, inspiring others on their paths to enlightenment.

Geshema Delek Wangmo sworn in as election commissioner copy

Geshema Delek Wangmo made history in 2020 when she was appointed as an election commissioner by the members of the Standing Committee of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile to ensure free and fair elections. Photo by Tenzin Phende/CTA

Reflections on the Geshema Path

The main reason Geshe Delek Wangmo escaped from Tibet was the inability to receive a proper spiritual education. Her commitment has never wavered. Having the opportunity to receive an education and become a Geshema is a dream come true for her and her sister nuns.

“Getting this degree after years of intense study of philosophical texts has given the nuns new energy to study even harder, as well as encouraged us to uphold the academic values His Holiness the Dalai Lama always emphasizes. It is the path that will lead us to work independently and become recognized as philosophy teachers within as well as outside the community.”

Geshema Delek Wangmo teaching May 2023

Geshema Delek Wangmo teaching on the Four Noble Truths in May 2023.

“When I told my parents that I completed the study they were very happy and cried. They wanted me to come to meet them,” she said. “I applied for a visa but I didn’t get one. I wish to go back to Tibet and meet my parents before they pass away.”

Geshema Delek Wangmo’s list of accomplishments keeps growing. During COVID, she gave online teachings in Tibetan on keeping a peaceful mind as part of a series of talks organized by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration.

On behalf of all the nuns, thank you for educating and empowering these brave and dedicated women like Geshema Delek Wangmo.

As one of the first Buddhist women wrote over 2,000 years ago:
A real hero
walks the Path
to its end.
Then shows others the way.

Geshemas Visioning Their Future

TNP Holds Geshemas Strategic Visioning Workshop

From April 8-12, 2024, the Tibetan Nuns Project organized a Geshemas Strategic Visioning Workshop at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in Dharamsala in conjunction with the Women’s Empowerment Desk of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The workshop was held with eight Geshemas from Dolma Ling and four Tibetan Buddhist nuns who are currently studying for their Geshema exams. The workshop aims to empower Geshemas in shaping the future of their role within Tibetan Buddhism.

collage Geshema Visioning Workshop

The 5-day workshop aimed to explore the future vision of the Geshemas (holders of the highest academic degree in Tibetan Buddhism) and support their participation in the larger social realm. The goal is to empower the Geshema to contribute back to the community through various leadership roles.

The Geshema degree is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa tradition and is equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. The Geshema degree is the same as a Geshe degree but is called a Geshema degree because it is awarded to women.

The degree was only formally opened to women in 2012. Sixty nuns currently hold the Geshema degree and many nuns will take various levels of the four-year Geshema exams this summer. The degree makes them eligible to assume various leadership roles in their monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not open to women.

Geshema Visioning Workshop Dolma Ling Timeline

As part of the workshop, the nuns used a big graphic illustration of Dolma Ling’s timeline called HERstory (rather than history) to help set the stage for the subsequent days. Hearing about their journeys from Tibet to the present was fascinating and awe-inspiring for everyone.

As part of the workshop, the nuns shared their stories. Several nuns started learning the Tibetan alphabet in their 20s and many only after they came to Dolma Ling. Many nuns had no schooling in Tibet or they were sent to Chinese schools with no opportunity to learn Tibetan. Here are some photos from the first days of the workshop.

The Workshop Organizers

The five-day workshop was conducted and facilitated at Dolma Ling by TNP board member, Dechen Tsering, with the help of TNP board members Tseten Phanucharas and Robin Groth.

Tibetan Geshemas take part in visioning workshop 2024

The Geshema degree stands as the pinnacle of educational attainment within the Gelugpa tradition. The workshop was aimed at enhancing leadership skills and awareness among Geshemas, empowering them to navigate life more effectively and cultivate their leadership qualities.

We are very grateful to our partner co-facilitators from CTA’s Women’s Empowerment Desk who helped prepare the workshop charts and banners and did the Tibetan-language translations. The team from the Women Empowerment Desk included Tsering Kyi (Lead Facilitator), Tenzin Tseten (co-facilitator), and Tenzin Dolkar (Tibetan language translator). They also offered a workshop on Gender and Leadership on April 10th.

Geshema Strategic Visioning Workshop April 2024

Geshemas at Dolma Ling offer prayers as part of the visioning workshop. The Geshema degree (called a Geshe degree for monks) was only formally opened to women in 2012. As of November 2023, 60 nuns hold this highest degree roughly equivalent to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

The Tibetan Nuns Project is also very grateful to our thought partners, Beckie Masaki and Nancy Wan from Bay Area’s Gathering Strength Coalition for working with Dechen Tsering in co-conceptualizing the workshop agenda and creating the HERstory timeline chart used to illustrate major milestones – past and future – by the workshop participants.

A Range of Workshop Activities

Over the five days, the participants took part in many group and individual activities including written vision statements about where they saw themselves in five years in 2029. Many of the nuns pictured themselves returning to their hometowns in Tibet or Spiti as principals of new schools they would start. Two nuns envisioned themselves as bilingual online Buddhist teachers. Four of the nuns already speak quite good English and want to improve so they can teach. One nun envisioned herself as director of TNP-paid staff at Dolma Ling. One nun saw herself in solitary retreat for five years to prepare for the next life.

Geshema Visioning Workshop 2024

Throughout the five days, attendees engaged in discussions on a range of topics, including effective communication, problem-solving, active listening, gender and leadership, leadership qualities and styles, team-building exercises, and visualization exercises.

Dechen Tsering wrote, “The Geshemas (and four future Geshemas) who took part were extremely enthusiastic, energetic, engaged, and participated fully throughout the five days! Together, we shared, we learned, we meditated, we played, and we laughed all week. We had fun!”

Rinchen Khando Choegyal speaks at Geshema workshop

Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Founding Director and Special Advisor for the Tibetan Nuns Project gave an inspirational talk. She emphasised the evolution and significance of the Geshema degree, highlighting how the Geshema’s contributions to the Tibetan community and Buddhist philosophy play a pivotal role in shaping history.

Board member, Robin Groth, created this slideshow of the workshop.

Making Headlines

The workshop made the news. On April 10th, a media team from VOA Tibetan came to Dolma Ling and did a 20-minute feature video story and interview in Tibetan with lead organizer, Dechen Tsering. Within two days the story had been viewed by over 2,600 people.

On April 13th, the Voice of Tibet did this interview and feature story entitled “Conversation on building a strategic vision and challenges for Geshemas.” The video is in Tibetan and shows many of the activities in the workshop. Can’t see the video? Click here.

Helping Geshemas on the Path

Please help build 16 rooms at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute for nuns who hold their Geshema degree so that they can get the education they need to become fully qualified teachers of their tradition.

The Geshema degree (called a Geshe degree for men) is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa tradition and is equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. The degree was only formally opened to women in 2012.

Geshema, Geshema degree, Geshema Endowment Fund

A Geshema holds the yellow hat that signifies her degree. Detail of photo by Olivier Adam.

Housing for Geshemas

There is a housing shortage for Geshemas who want to do Tantric studies. To solve this problem, we would like to construct 16 rooms plus bathrooms, kitchen and dining facilities, and a study hall. These 16 rooms and facilities will be on the third floor of the Yangchen Lophel Center at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Geshemas from nunneries all over India and Nepal will be able to stay here so that they can take the final year of advanced education at the nearby Gyuto Tantric University.

Geshemas studying Tantric Buddhism

Part of the first group of 23 Geshema nuns who had the opportunity to do Buddhist Tantric Studies. Photo by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

The 16 rooms can either be single-bed study rooms or, as the groups of Geshema graduates become larger, accommodate two nuns per room. Now that this degree is open to women, more nuns from India and Nepal are studying to be Geshemas. It is difficult to predict how many graduates there will be each year, so the facility must be as flexible as possible. We also hope that the Geshema Organizing Committee’s office can be moved into this facility to free up the room they are now using in Dolma Ling Nunnery.

To help the Geshemas on their path you can:

  1. Make a gift online
  2. Call our office in Seattle, U.S. at 1-206-652-8901
  3. Mail a check to The Tibetan Nuns Project, 815 Seattle Boulevard South #418, Seattle, WA 98134 U.S. (note that it is for Housing for Geshemas)
  4. Donate securities

Background

December 22, 2016, marked an important day in the history of Tibet as 20 nuns became the first Tibetan women to receive their Geshema degrees, equivalent to a doctorate in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

Geshema, Geshema nuns, Tibetan nuns, His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Tibetan Buddhist nuns make history. Collage of photos from the Geshema graduation event on December 22, 2016. Photos courtesy of Olivier Adam and OHHDL.

The Geshema degree was only formally opened to women in 2012. Now Geshemas are paving the way for other nuns to follow in their footsteps. This degree makes them eligible to assume various leadership roles in their monastic and lay communities reserved for degree holders and hence previously not open to women.

Geshema, online Buddhist teaching, Geshema Delek Wangmo

Geshema Delek Wangmo has completed her Tantric Studies and now teaches at Dolma Ling Nunnery. In May 2023, she and Geshema Tenzin Kunsel gave an online Buddhist teaching and taught other Geshemas how to do this.

Their success fulfils a longstanding wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and marks a new chapter in the development of education for ordained Buddhist women and is a major accomplishment for Tibetan women. It is also a milestone for the Tibetan Nuns Project, which was founded in 1987 to provide education and humanitarian aid to Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in India.

Tantric Studies

After monks attain their Geshe degree (the male equivalent of the Geshema degree) they must study the Tantric treatises to become fully qualified masters capable of teaching their complete tradition. The monks normally join one of the two main Tantric Colleges to do this.

The Tibetan Nuns Project set up a Tantric Studies program out of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute for all the recent Geshema grads from India and Nepal. In 2018, 23 of the 26 nuns in the first two groups of Geshema graduates started Tantric studies. The nuns attended classes at nearby Gyuto Tantric University to receive the necessary empowerments and transmissions from the senior monks. The Tantric Studies Program generally takes around 12 months to complete.

The Need for Housing for Geshemas

After monks attain their Geshe degree (the male equivalent of the Geshema degree) they must study the Tantric treatises to become fully qualified masters capable of teaching their complete tradition. To do this, the monks normally join one of the two main Tantric Colleges.

The Tibetan Nuns Project has set up a Tantric Studies program out of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute for all the recent Geshema grads from India and Nepal. In 2018, 23 of the 26 nuns in the first two groups of Geshema graduates started Tantric studies. The nuns attended classes at nearby Gyuto Tantric University to receive the necessary empowerments and transmissions from the senior monks. The Tantric Studies Program generally takes around 12 months to complete.

The Current Problem

Since 2018, the Geshemas have been housed and fed at Dolma Ling, traveling daily by jeep to Gyuto Tantric University for their studies. These arrangements are currently funded by the Tibetan Nuns Project under the Geshema Endowment Fund.

Tantric studies, Tibetan nuns, Tibetan Buddhism, Dolma Ling

For the first time in the history of Tibet, Buddhist nuns have the opportunity to formally study Tantric Buddhism and become teachers. But they need your help to provide accommodation and food. Photo courtesy of the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

Although there are many advantages for the Geshemas with this arrangement, it is placing a big strain on Dolma Ling to accommodate them. It also restricts the number of new nuns who can be admitted to Dolma Ling. Space must be available for young nuns to join Dolma Ling to give the nunnery fresh input each year.

Rinchen Khando Choegyal with Geshemas at Dolma Ling 2017

Celebrating Losar at Dolma Ling – Photo Essay

Sit back, relax, and take an armchair journey to Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in India, home to about 250 Tibetan Buddhist nuns. The wonderful team of Media Nuns at Dolma Ling took dozens of photos showing the nuns preparing for and celebrating Losar, Tibetan New Year.

butter sculptures, Losar, Tibetan butter sculptures

The art of making sculptures out of butter has been practiced for over 400 years in Tibet. This highly revered artistic tradition is now being taught to nuns at Dolma Ling and is being preserved by them.

Losar or Tibetan New Year is a very special time of year. This year, Losar fell on February 10th and, according to the Tibetan calendar, is the start of the year of the Wood Dragon 2151. In the traditional calendar, each year has an animal, an element, and a number.

Losar-related rituals fall into two distinct parts. First, the nuns, like all Tibetans, prepare for the new year and say goodbye to the old year, letting go of all its negative or bad aspects. Part of the preparations involves cleaning the nunnery.

Tibetan butter sculptures

In the weeks leading up to Losar, the nuns make elaborate butter sculptures of flowers and Buddhist sacred symbols to decorate the Losar offering table and offering boxes.

Since 2001, the Dolma Ling nuns have been studying the ancient art of butter sculpture making. In addition to the larger butter sculptures made for the Losar altar, the nuns make smaller displays on individual sticks, called tsepdro, for each person in the nunnery — nuns, staff, and teachers. This means that each Losar, the nuns make around 300 of these, using a wide variety of designs. The nuns display them in their rooms as part of their Losar altars and offerings, as a kind of bundle of auspiciousness.

Besides making butter sculptures, the nuns prepare special Losar foods like the deep-fried biscuits called khapse. Khapse means literally “mouth-eat” and the dough is usually made with flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. It is then rolled out into various shapes and sizes. The most common shape is the small twisted rectangular pieces served to guests.

making khapse for Losar or Tibetan New Year

Each year the nuns make khapse in various shapes and sizes. These deep-fried Tibetan cookies are a staple of Tibetan New Year celebrations everywhere.

On the night of the 29th day of the 12th month, or the eve of Losar, Tibetans eat a special soup called guthuk. Guthuk is eaten only once a year as part of a ritual of dispelling any negativities of the old year and to make way for an auspicious new one.

special food for Losar or Tibetan New Year

The top photos show nuns getting guthuk soup with the dough balls containing hidden messages. The bottom photos show the special tea and sweet rice served in the temple at Losar.

Guthuk has at least nine ingredients and the soup is extra special because each person receives a large dough ball containing a hidden item or symbol in it. Each item is meant as a playful commentary on the character of the person who gets it.

Before the first day of Losar, the nuns create an elaborate altar or offering table using their large butter sculpture flowers and stacks of specially made khapse. The Losar altars serve as prominent, central symbols of a wish to cultivate a generous heart and to invoke beautiful blessings for the New Year for all sentient beings.

The nuns also use their butter sculptures to decorate chemar bo. The chemar bo is an open, ornately carved wooden box divided down the middle. The left side is traditionally filled with roasted barley seeds and the right side is filled with chemar, made of roasted barley flour (tsampa), sugar, and butter. On arriving, Losar guests are invited to take a pinch of the chemar, after which they offer a blessing and good luck wish while throwing the chemar in the air with three waves of their hands and then taking a tiny nibble. The chemar is an auspicious offering to make at the Losar shrine to bring blessings in the new year.

Losar offering tables, Losar altar, Losar at Dolma Ling, Losar 2024, Tibetan New Year

The Losar offering tables are decorated with butter sculptures and large pieces of khapse called bhungue amcho or donkey ears. These big hollow tubes of crispy pastry are stacked on the Losar altar and decorated with strings of dried Tibetan cheese.

On the day of Losar itself, Tibetans get up early in the morning and wish each other “Tashi Delek” or Happy New Year and then go to the prayer hall for prayers. Part of the prayer ceremony includes tsok, the offering of blessed food including khapse and fruit.

At the end of the puja or prayer ceremony, all the nuns line up to pay homage at the throne of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the nunnery’s leaders. They offer white kataks, ceremonial Tibetan prayer scarves.

Losar at Dolma Ling, throwing tsampa, Losar 2024, Tibetan New Year

Nuns play a Tibetan wind instrument called gyaling somewhat like an oboe as part of their prayers. They also offer kataks to the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Visiting others is a special part of Losar. The nuns and staff at the nunnery visit each other’s rooms to wish each other a happy new year and to drink cups of traditional Tibetan salty butter tea.

It is customary to hang new sets of prayer flags at Losar. Old prayer flags from the previous year are taken down and burned with bunches of fragrant pine and juniper. The nuns also hang new prayer flags with a wish that all beings everywhere will benefit and find happiness.

If you would like to hang Tibetan prayer flags, you can order prayer flags that are made and blessed by the Dolma Ling nuns.

hanging prayer flags at Dolma Ling Nunnery, Tibetan prayer flags, Tibetan prayer flags at Losar, Tibetan New Year

Tibetan prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be spread by the wind and bring goodwill and compassion to benefit all beings.

On the third day of the Tibetan New Year, a special incense-burning offering called sang-sol is held. While many nuns travel home to visit their families at Losar, some nuns remain at the nunnery and take part in this special event.

After the Losar holiday, the new academic year begins and, if space allows, new nuns join the Tibetan nunneries in India. If you would like to sponsor a nun for just $1 a day, we are always looking for more sponsors.

Losar at Dolma Ling, throwing tsampa, Losar 2024, Tibetan New Year

The nuns gather in a line or circle. Each nun takes some tsampa (roasted barley flour) in her right hand as an offering. They raise their arms simultaneously twice and then, on the third time, they throw the tsampa high into the air shouting “Losar Tashi Delek”.

Thank you for supporting the nuns! You are educating and empowering them and helping to preserve Tibet’s wisdom and culture. We wish you a very happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

 

Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Urgently Need Textbooks

The new academic year begins shortly after February 10th and the Tibetan Buddhist nuns urgently need new math, science, and English textbooks. Can you help?

textbooks for nuns, Tibetan Buddhist nuns,

So far three nunneries, home to 650 nuns have sent their wish lists of textbooks. The total cost for the 1,005 textbooks comes to $5,563 or about $5 per book. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam.

Three nunneries have already sent their lists of books they’d like to purchase from Collins India. We’re waiting to get the textbook requirements from the remaining four nunneries we support and also the list of storybooks needed for Shugsep Nunnery.

So far, the nunneries have asked for 1,005 textbooks in English for their 550 nuns. The cost of these orders is $5,563. The average cost of one textbook is between $5 and $6, so even if you can help purchase one textbook, that would be wonderful.

Tibetan Buddhist nun reading an English textbook.

Teaching and learning is a complex process. Studies show that illustrated textbooks help students learn more effectively. The nuns need textbooks for math, science, and English. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam.

At Shugsep Nunnery and Institute, home to about 100 nuns, the nuns would love math, science, and English grammar and composition books. The English teacher would like to improve the stock of English textbooks so the students can complete coursework up to Grade 8. The nunnery’s last big purchase of books was years ago and the books have been so well-loved that they are now falling apart. Shugsep Nunnery needs 369 textbooks. Cost: $2,019.

At Geden Choeling, the oldest nunnery in Dharamsala, the 200 nuns and their teachers are excited at the prospect of having good sets of books. Geden Choeling’s abbot is keen for the nuns to learn math, but the nunnery doesn’t have any math textbooks. They have asked for help to purchase textbooks so the teacher can use them for ideas and exercises in their classes. Geden Choeling would like 362 textbooks Cost: US $1,864. 

At Dolma Ling, home to 250 nuns, the teachers have asked for the higher grade books which were not previously available and for grammar and composition books. Dolma Ling has so far requested 274 textbooks. Cost: $1,680.

To help buy textbooks for nuns you can:

    1. Make a gift online here.
    2. Call our office in Seattle, US at 1-206-652-8901
    3. Mail a check to: The Tibetan Nuns Project (note for textbooks) 815 Seattle Boulevard South #418, Seattle, WA 98134 USA

The Power of Textbooks

A single book can transform hundreds of lives.

Textbooks provide organized units of work with each lesson carefully spelled out. Because they are illustrated, students can picture and visualize concepts.

Books for Tibetan Buddhist nuns

There’s a growing body of research showing that high-quality textbooks are important for students’ comprehension and success. Please help provide math, science, and English textbooks for the nuns. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam.

A textbook gives all the plans and lessons needed to cover a topic in some detail. They save time and energy when searching for information and provide a reliable point of reference. The textbooks will be ordered from Collins India.

Although we now have a science-learning program in the nunneries for one month per year, if the teachers had each level of science and general knowledge textbooks in their classrooms it enliven their classes and help to explain science topics.

Textbooks needed for Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India

Traditionally Tibetan Buddhist nuns have not had equal access to education. The textbooks will help educate and empower the nuns to become teachers and leaders.

The Tibetan Nuns Project is also raising funds for teachers’ salaries for the 2024 academic year.

Creative Ways to Help Tibetan Buddhist Nuns

In this blog, we want to showcase some of the creative ways our supporters are helping Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India.

Since we are a small charity, it is hard for us to manage volunteers and events. So we appreciate our supporters doing things that they love, independent of our help, and then donating a portion of the proceeds to help the nuns.

Wool-Aid: Knitting for Nuns

Wool-Aid, knitted sweaters for Tibetan Buddhist nuns

Our deepest thanks to Terry Yokota and all the volunteer knitters with Wool-Aid for their latest shipment of sweaters, hats, and mittens for Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India.

Since 2016, a group of volunteer knitters called Wool-Aid have knit hats, sweaters, and mittens for nuns at nunneries in northern India. The knitters thoughtfully choose colors in keeping with the nuns’ robes and also cover any shipping and receiving costs.

In December, the nuns at Dolma Ling received three boxes of knitwear from Wool-Aid. At this time, the Wool-Aid volunteers are fulfilling the needs of the various nunneries we support and there is no need for other knitters to send things.

Wool-Aid sweaters, hats and mittens, knitwear for Tibetan Buddhist nuns, ways to help

The Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute are delighted with their new sweaters, hats, and mittens from Wool-Aid.

The Etsy Shop Daughters of Buddha

Our long-time supporter, Olivier Adam, created an Etsy site called “Daughters of Buddha” in 2014 dedicated to supporting the Tibetan Nuns Project. Olivier sells fine art prints and postcards featuring his stunning photographs and kindly donates 50% of the sales to help the nuns.

Daughters of Buddha Etsy site banner

Banner image for Olivier Adam’s Etsy site where he sells fine art prints and cards with 50% of the proceeds donated to the Tibetan Nuns Project.

Since 2008 Olivier has travelled at his own expense to document the lives of nuns in India and Nepal. He shares his images with the Tibetan Nuns Project and we also sell greeting cards with his photos here. There are three packs to choose from and they are a great value. Each pack costs US $20 and contains 10 blank cards and envelopes with beautiful photos donated by Olivier Adam and Brian Harris.

ways to help, blank greeting cards, Tibetan greeting cards, cards by Olivier Adam

Greeting cards with photos by Olivier Adam are available through the Tibetan Nuns Project online store.

Brian Harris’s Creative Legacy Campaign

You may be familiar with Brian Harris’s iconic photo of laughing nuns. Brian and his wife Paula have left gifts in their wills to the Tibetan Nuns Project and they wanted to encourage others to do the same. Brian has donated 8×10 prints of his “Laughing Nuns” to be given to anyone who confirms that they are leaving a legacy to the Tibetan Nuns Project. You can read the story behind the famous Laughing Nuns photo here.

laughing nuns by Brian Harris, legacy gift, free gift

Do What You Love and Benefit the Nuns

Once or twice a year for the past 12 years, the Tibetan Nuns Project has received a check from the Oxford University Press for royalties from the sale of a Buddhist book after the authors kindly donated their royalties to help the nuns.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns holding a thank-you sign

We are so grateful to everyone who pays it forward to help the nuns!

If you have something that you love doing, like baking bread, growing flowers, or making art, why not consider donating a portion of the proceeds to help educate and empower Tibetan Buddhist nuns?

Important Tibetan Buddhist Holidays in 2024

Here is a list of important Tibetan Buddhist holidays in 2024 plus other major dates in the Tibetan calendar.

2024 calendar, important Tibetan Buddhist holidays in 2024, Losar 2024

The 2024 Tibetan Nuns Project calendar is available through our online store at tnp.org and has the Tibetan lunar calendar, ritual dates, inspirational quotes, phases of the moon, and major US and Canadian holidays. The cost is $12 and all proceeds help the nuns.

Each year, the Tibetan Nuns Project publishes a calendar with beautiful images by the nuns. Sales help provide education, food, shelter, and health care for over 800 Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in northern India.

February 10, 2024: Losar, Tibetan New Year

Tibetan butter sculptures for Losar

The nuns at Dolma Ling make elaborate and colorful butter sculptures of flowers and Buddhist sacred symbols to decorate an offering table for Losar or Tibetan New Year. Photos by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

Losar or Tibetan New Year is a very special time of year. In the traditional Tibetan calendar, each year has an animal, an element, and a number.

This year Losar is on February 10, 2024. According to the Tibetan calendar, it is the start of the year of the Wood Dragon 2151.

Tibetan Buddhist nun, prayer flags, hanging prayer flags
Tibetans hang new prayer flags and burn incense at Tibetan New Year. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam

The animals in the Tibetan calendar are similar to those in the Chinese zodiac and are in the following order: Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Bird, Dog, and Boar. The five elements are in this order: Wood, Fire, Earth, Iron, and Water.

Losar-related rituals fall into two distinct parts. First, the nuns, like all Tibetans, say goodbye to the old year and let go of all its negative or bad aspects. Part of this involves cleaning one’s home or room from top to bottom.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns making khapse for Tibetan New Year or Losar

Each year the nuns make lots of khapse biscuits in various shapes and sizes for Losar. These deep-fried Tibetan cookies are a staple of Tibetan New Year celebrations everywhere. Photos by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns

After that, Tibetans welcome the “Losar” or “new year” with prayers and by inviting all good, auspicious things into their homes and lives. They prepare special food such as the fried biscuits called khapse and a noodle soup called guthuk. Here is a recipe for vegetarian guthuk.

At Losar, Tibetans hang new prayer flags and also burn incense and fragrant juniper bows to welcome the new year. If you would like to hang Tibetan prayer flags, you can order them here. The prayer flags are made and blessed by Tibetan Buddhist nuns in India.

March 10 and March 12: Tibetan Uprising Day

Tibetans taking part in March 10th demonstrations Dharamsala

Nuns, monks, and lay people hold Tibetan flags and banners as they take part in a demonstration in Dharamsala, India to mark March 10th, Tibetan Uprising Day. Photo courtesy of the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

While not a Tibetan Buddhist holiday, March 10th is a very important date in the Tibetan calendar. 2024 marks the 65th anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising. Around the world, Tibetans and their supporters remember and pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed their lives for Tibet’s struggle. An estimated one million Tibetans have perished and 98% of monasteries and nunneries were destroyed under the Chinese occupation.

In 1950, Chinese Communist forces invaded Tibet. On March 10, 1959, Tibetans attempted to take back their country with an uprising in Lhasa. The protests were crushed with brutal force.

March 12th, 2024 marks the 65th anniversary of the Tibetan Women’s Uprising. Following the National Uprising Day on March 10th, thousands of Tibetan women gathered in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa to demonstrate for Tibetan independence.

Read this blog post to learn more about these important dates and why Tibetans are in exile.

May 23, 2024: Saga Dawa Düchen

The most important month in the Tibetan calendar is Saga Dawa, the 4th lunar month which runs this year from May 9 to June 6th 2024. The 15th day of the 4th lunar month, the full moon day, is called Saga Dawa Düchen. Düchen means “great occasion” and this day is the holiest day of the year for Tibetan Buddhists. In 2024, Saga Dawa Düchen is on May 23rd.

Saga Dawa, Saga Dawa Duchen, Important Tibetan Buddhist holidays,

Every year, during the month of Saga Dawa, over several days, the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery read the entire Tibetan Buddhist canon or Kangyur, the 108 volumes of the spoken words of the Buddha. Photo courtesy of the Nuns’ Media Team.

Saga Dawa Düchen commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of Buddha Shakyamuni. In other Buddhist traditions, this occasion is known as Vesak or is sometimes called Buddha Day.

Saga Dawa is known as the month of merits. Tibetans believe that during this month the merits of your actions are multiplied. Tibetan Buddhists make extra effort to practice more generosity, virtue, and compassion to accumulate greater merit. On the 15th day of the month or Saga Dawa Düchen the merits of your actions are hugely increased.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns reading the kangyur for Saga Dawa

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling read the Kangyur, the spoken words of the Buddha, during the holy month of Saga Dawa. Photo by the Dolma Ling Media Nuns.

June 22, 2024: Universal Prayer Day

Tibetan Buddhist nuns, burning juniper

As on other auspicious occasions, such as Tibetan New Year and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday, nuns burn fragrant juniper boughs. Photo by the Dolma Ling Nuns’ Media Team

Universal Prayer Day or Dzam Ling Chi Sang falls on the 15th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar, so in June or July. It is a time for spiritual cleansing. Tibetans hang prayer flags and burn juniper twigs.

July 6: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Birthday

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6th is celebrated worldwide with happiness and prayers for his good health and long life. This year, His Holiness the Dalai Lama turns 89.

The nuns will pray and make special offerings of tsok, khataks (prayer scarves), and sangsol (incense offering) to His Holiness. Here’s a blog post and video of the nuns celebrating His Holiness’s birthday in 2023.

It’s a day of celebration with special food, such as Tibetan momos, the steamed savory dumplings that are much loved by Tibetans around the world and that are often made on Tibetan Buddhist holidays. Here is a recipe for vegetarian momos so you can celebrate at home.

July 9, 2024: Buddha’s First Teaching

Called Chokhor Düchen, this important day falls on the fourth day of the sixth lunar month. This day is the third “great occasion” (düchen) in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar. It celebrates the first teaching by the historical Buddha, named Siddhartha at birth and commonly known as Shakyamuni Buddha.

On this day, over 2,500 years ago, the Buddha gave the teaching of the Four Noble Truths in Sarnath, shortly after attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya. This event is known as the “turning of the wheel of dharma”. In Theravada traditions, this event is remembered on Dhamma Day also known as Asalha Puja and is generally marked on the full moon of the eighth lunar month. To celebrate Chokhor Düchen, Tibetan Buddhists make pilgrimages to holy places, offer incense, and hang prayer flags.​​

November 22, 2024: Buddha’s Descent from Heaven

Tibetan Buddhist nun praying by Olivier Adam

Tibetan Buddhist nun praying. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam.

Another “great occasion” or düchen in the Tibetan Buddhist calendar is Lhabab Düchen. This date commemorates the Buddha’s descent from the heavenly realm, where he had gone to impart teachings to his mother, Maya Devi (or Mayadevi), who had been reborn there. She had passed away seven days after his birth. To repay her kindness and liberate her from samsara, and also to benefit the gods, Buddha spent three months teaching in the realm of the gods.

Lhabab Düchen occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth lunar month, according to the Tibetan calendar. On this day, the karmic effects of our actions are multiplied millions of times. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, people engage in virtuous activities and pray to gain merit and to mark this special occasion.

February 28, 2025: Losar (Tibetan New Year)

Tibetan Buddhist nuns offering at Losar Tibetan New Year

Tibetan Buddhist nuns offering at Losar Tibetan New Year. Photo by Olivier Adam

Losar in 2025 falls on February 28th and is the start of the Year of the Wood Snake, 2152 according to the Tibetan calendar.

Keep Track with the 2024 Tibetan Nuns Project Calendar

You can order our 2024 Tibetan Nuns Project calendar. It’s a great way to keep track of the Tibetan Buddhist holidays and all the special events throughout the year. The calendar has the dates of the Tibetan lunar calendar, Tibetan holidays, and special ritual days for Tibetan Buddhist practices. It costs $12 and your purchase helps support over 800 Tibetan Buddhist nuns and seven nunneries in India. Thank you for your support!