Tag Archives: Buddhist nuns

Nuns making Tibetan momos with video

If you ask someone to name their favorite Tibetan food there’s a good chance they’ll say Tibetan momos. Momos are steamed savoury dumplings that are much loved by Tibetans around the world and that are often made on traditional holidays.

vegetarian Tibetan momos

Photo of vegetarian Tibetan momos and chili sauce courtesy of YoWangdu Tibetan Culture.

Momos are a bit of a delicacy because of the work involved in making them. They can be stuffed with a variety of fillings such as beef, yak meat, cheese, potatoes or vegetables.

The nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala in northern India (one of the seven nunneries in India supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project) follow a vegetarian diet and make momos on special occasions such as Tibetan New Year and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday.

Here’s a lovely video that the nuns made in 2012 ago showing them preparing momos to celebrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6th. As you will see from the video, it’s no small task to make enough momos to serve over 230 nuns!

If you’d like to make momos at home, here a recipe for vegetarian momos and one for meat momos, both kindly shared by YoWangdu Tibetan Culture.

Tibetan Losar Prayers and Ceremonies in Dharamsala

This is a guest post about Tibetan Losar celebrations at two Buddhist nunneries in India by Dominique Butet and with photos by Olivier Adam.

Last month, on 19 February 2015, my partner Olivier Adam and I participated in the ceremonies for Tibetan New Year or Losar at Geden Choeling Nunnery in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala in northern India.

In the very early morning, at 3:30 a.m., the 135 nuns of the nunnery were already sitting in the temple, beginning their Losar puja or prayers with great dedication.

We shared cups of traditional Tibetan salty butter tea with the nuns. Then two nuns brought the offering of tsampa (roasted barley flour) around to everyone so that we could celebrate the start of the new year by throwing tsampa into the air and wishing everyone “Losar Tashi Delek” (Happy New Year) with pure, joyful smiles.

Buddhist Nuns chemar Losar ceremony

Two nuns carry a chamar bo, an open, decorated box with one half filled with chamar, made of roasted barley flour or tsampa and the other half filled with roasted barley. People are invited to take a pinch of the chemar then offer a blessing with three waves of the hand in the air, then taking a nibble. Photo courtesy of Olivier Adam.

Inside the temple, the sound of the prayers grew to fill the entire space and the nuns’ voices were accompanied by bells and Tibetan hand drums (damaru). We were each served sweet rice with dry fruits, followed by a delicious tsampa soup served with all sorts of nuts and dates. Just as sweet tea was brought to the temple, we were also each given the authentic khapse, the deep-fried pastries served at Losar. They come in all sizes, but the ones we were given looked like two big open ears! (You can learn more about khapse by reading this Tibetan Nuns Project blog about these New Year’s cookies.)  Continue reading

Inauguration of Retreat Huts at Dolma Ling Nunnery

On November 10 2014, the eight new retreat huts built at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India were inaugurated by Dagri Rinpoche. The nuns sent the following photos of the special occasion.

Inauguration retreat huts Dolma Ling 2014

Nuns and monks holding white ceremonial khataks to greet Dagri Rinpoche and others during the inauguration of the retreat huts at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, November 10th 2014. Photo: Tibetan Nuns Project

Dagri Rinpoche inuagurates retreat huts Nov 10 2014

Dagri Rinpoche, who is living at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence premises at the main temple in Dharamsala, Tsuglagkhang, inaugurates the eight retreat huts. Photo: Tibetan Nuns Project

Dagri Rinpoche inaugurates retreat huts Dolma Ling Nov 2014

Blessing inside one of the eight new retreat huts at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Photo: Tibetan Nuns Project

inauguration of retreat huts DF Nov 2014 Dagri Rinpoche

A joyous day at Dolma Ling Nunnery as Dagri Rinpoche inaugurates the new retreat huts. Photo: Tibetan Nuns Project

Continue reading

Tibetan Nuns in India Close to Earning Highest Buddhist Degrees

A group of Tibetan nuns have passed the halfway mark toward a historic milestone: winning the equivalent of a Buddhist doctorate degree, until recently almost exclusively reserved only for men.

In May, 22 nuns passed through the second stage of examinations for a “Geshema” degree, the female equivalent of a Geshe degree. The examination process began in May, 2013.

Three senior nuns awaiting their turns to debate during the 2014 Geshema examinations

Three senior nuns awaiting their turns to debate during the 2014 Geshema examinations

Continue reading

Celebrating Losar at a Buddhist Nunnery

Losar, or Tibetan New Year, falls this year on March 2nd 2014 and is the start of the Wood Horse Year, which is year 2141 in the Tibetan lunar calendar.

Happy Losar card - nuns hanging prayer flags by Olivier Adam

Photo of nuns hanging prayer flags courtesy of Olivier Adam

This year will be the first time in many years that Losar celebrations will take place at Tibetan exile communities and at Dolma Ling Nunnery near Dharamsala, India and other nunneries.

Since 2008 and the unrest in Tibet, many of the Tibetan settlements, monasteries and nunneries in India have not been celebrating Losar. With many Tibetans self-immolating for the cause in Tibet, Tibetans in exile have joined together in prayers, but have not followed traditional Losar celebrations.

Continue reading

Report on the completion of retreat huts at Dolma Ling Nunnery

3 Tibetan Buddhist nuns in front of retreat hutsAt the end of October 2013, thanks to the generous support of Tibetan Nuns Project donors and to the hard work of the nuns themselves, the construction, furnishing and landscaping of 8 permanent retreat huts at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India was completed.

Retreats are a core part of Buddhist practice and these huts will allow the nuns to develop their own insight and knowledge in complete privacy. This is the first time that retreat facilities have been available at Dolma Ling Nunnery, home to over 230 nuns.

Tibetan nun helping to landscape retreat huts

The nuns plant bamboo near the retreat huts.

Each hut consists of a simple room with a bathroom and kitchen area. They are each furnished with a bed, a storage cupboard, a table, a prostration board, provisions for the small kitchen area and supplies for the small bathroom. One solar panel per hut provides light, power and warm water so that the huts are sustainable and ecologically sound. Continue reading

Empowering nuns to tell their own stories

Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Most of us take for granted our ability and opportunity to tell and share our stories. In wealthy nations, we’ve been privileged to have access to the education and tools such as computers and cameras that allow us to document our personal stories, messages and creative projects.

Not everyone has this opportunity. The Tibetan nuns have been among the world’s most disadvantaged in this regard. Not only did they face horrific human rights abuses prior to their escape, many of them received little or no education in Tibet and were illiterate on arrival in exile.

picture of 4 Tibetan Buddhist nuns at computers

Computer and media training at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Photo courtesy of Harald Weichhart who spent a month at Dolma Ling in May 2013 and has visited the nunnery 2 other times to offer training to the nuns in film-making, video editing, photography, design and Photoshop.

“I was 19 years old when I reached Dharamsala and was first introduced to formal education,” says Delek Yangdron. Delek was among a group of 40 nuns who arrived in Dharamsala from Lithang, Tibet in 1990 after a 28-day escape to Nepal, trekking over the Himalayas at night to avoid capture. Continue reading

A taste of life at Dolma Ling Nunnery – with dal recipe

We wanted to give you a taste of life at the nunneries by sharing details of the nuns’ meals and also send you a delicious recipe for dal, Tibetan style, that you can try at home.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns making breakfast at Dolma Ling Nunnery. Tibetan Nuns Project

You have to get up VERY early to prepare breakfast for 230 nuns. Canadian photographer Brian Harris arrived in the kitchen of Dolma Ling Nunnery at about 3 am and found the nuns already at work making hundreds of parathas, an Indian dish of potato-filled fried bread. A typical breakfast for the nuns might be a piece of flat bread, cooked mixed vegetable and tea. Continue reading

The nuns need your help

The following is a message from Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Director and Elizabeth Napper, Co-Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project.

Due to rapid inflation in India, our sponsorship program is unable to keep up with the rising cost of living for the nuns. For instance, the cost of a tank of cooking gas has more than doubled in the past year, putting a huge strain on all the nunneries.

The Tibetan Nuns Project sponsorship program currently supports over 700 Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in 7 nunneries in northern India, as well as numerous nuns living on their own.

For less than $1 a day, you can help provide a nun’s basic necessities including shelter, food, education, and health care.

By becoming a sponsor you will also help:

  • Build self-sufficiency through skills training opportunities
  • Train nuns to take leadership and service roles within their communities
  • Improve the level and status of ordained Buddhist women 

100% of your sponsorship money goes directly to the nunneries in India. 

Your gifts will help nuns like Kelsang, age 78 from a village in Amdo, the eastern province of Tibet.

Here is Kelsang’s story:

My family belonged to a farming community. We grew barley, wheat, peas, buckwheat and different kinds of vegetables. We also kept yaks and sheep. Until the age of 20, I remained with my family helping them in the fields. This I guess was perhaps the best part of my life. Then the Chinese came. Continue reading

Happy International Women’s Day from the Tibetan Nuns Project!

Thanks to the wonderful support of Tibetan Nuns Project donors, over 700 nuns in 7 nunneries in India are now being educated, nourished, sheltered and empowered. Our supporters are enabling the nuns to reach their full potential.

The nuns’ journeys to their new homes in India were full of suffering and loss. They faced arrest, torture, frostbite and death on their escape from Tibet.

Tibetan Nuns Project supporters have helped give them refuge and a safe place to practice. They have helped to provide them with education and skills training to build sustainability. They have joined with other compassionate souls to give the nuns both community and new homes, from which they can reach out and help others. Continue reading