Life at Geden Choeling Nunnery
Geden Choeling is the oldest nunnery in the Dharamsala area and is located in McLeod Ganj, Upper Dharamsala. The nunnery absorbed a steady stream of refugee nuns since 1975 and now 175 nuns live and study there. The name means which means “home of the virtuous ones who devote their lives to the Buddha Dharma.”
The nuns’ daily routine consists of classes, debate sessions and religious activities.
At the end of March 2022, the nuns started a major building project to construct a debate hall and nuns’ hostel. The goal is to complete this work by the end of March 2025. The aim is to provide better educational facilities and improved accommodation for the nuns.
During the holy month of Saga Dawa which ran from May 31st to June 29th 2022, the nuns recited special prayers for the well-being of all sentient beings and for lasting peace in the world. During this holy month, the nuns also recited the over 300 volumes of the Kangyur and Tengyur texts and chanted prayers and did prostrations in front of the Lord Buddha statue.
Also during Saga Dawa, the nuns observed four pairs or eight days of Nyung Ne fasting during which they did not have any food or water.
Two nuns, Venerbale Passang Dolma and Venerable Tenzin Desel attended a special event organized by the Department of Religion and Culture held at Namdroling Monastery from June 16-19th. The speakers of the discourse consisted of 13 monks and 4 nuns representing each school and sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
On July 6, 2022, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 87th birthday, the nuns offered long-life prayers and recited sacred texts.
The nuns half-year exams took place from July 16-30 and all of them showed great enthusiasm to take part. The nuns have improved greatly in both their written and debate exams.
Geshema Exams 2022 and Training in Monastic Debate
This year the Geshema exams were held at Geden Choeling. Candidates for the exams arrived at the nunnery on July 6th to start the one-month final study period before the two weeks of formal exams started on August 7.
Ninety-four nuns from six different nunneries in India and Nepal took the exams including 18 nuns from Geden Choeling itself. Three Geden Choeling nuns took their 4th and final set of exams. Two of those nuns graduated with their Geshema degree at a special ceremony in Bodh Gaya on November 18, 2022.
At the closing ceremony for the Geshema exams, Kasur Rinchen Khando Choegyal, the Founding Director and Special Advisor for the Tibetan Nuns Project, attended as the event’s chief guest.
On August 10, 2022, the entire nunnery compound and surrounding area were cleaned and the stairs scrubbed with bleaching powder to prevent accidents because in the monsoon season it becomes very slippery.
From the start of September, the nuns began preparing for the annual Jang Gonchoe inter-nunnery debate to be held at Bodh Gaya from October 16 to November 17.
Finally, four nuns attended the Tibet Science Initiative program conducted by the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives from September 15 to October 7th.